Rugby Australia have confirmed their 31-man Wallabies squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, with coach Michael Cheika lining up a mix of youth and experience while holding onto much of the side that finished second in The Rugby Championship.
The injury-plagued David Pocock has been given a ticket to Japan with the hopes of recovering in time for Australia’s final warm-up Test against Samoa on September 7.
Veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has been named for his fourth World Cup, tying legend George Gregan as the only two Australians to reach the mark.
Depending on how deep Australia can run into the tournament and how much game-time Cheika gives to the Waratahs outside back, Ashley-Cooper is also just five games away from the international all-time record for most World Cup games.
At the other end of the table, 19-year-old Jordan Petaia has been given the nod as his promising future in Australian rugby continues to be nurtured by the national side despite a frustrating past 18 months battling injury.
Notable absentees from the squad include Pete Samu and Tatafu Polota-Nau, whose 14-year Wallaby career looks to be over after this omission. Tom Robertson, Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks are other capped Wallabies to have missed the lineup.
Halfback Nick Phipps has also been pushed aside after the re-emergence of Will Genia and Nic White over the last two years, with fellow No.9 Joe Powell also being left out.
Despite late calls for his inclusion, Will Skelton’s unlikely return to Australian rugby failed to come to pass.
Powell, Banks, Liam Wright, Luke Jones and Polota-Nau are still slated to travel with the squad for their training camp before the tournament as reserves but aren’t expected to make any further impact on the World Cup campaign.
Michael Hooper and Samu Kerevi have been named as captain and vice-captain respectively.
“It’s important that we select a squad that will handle the tournament play and our draw in particular at the Rugby World Cup, as well as maintain a strong competition for places in the team,” said Cheika.
“These next few weeks are about building and adding that little extra edge as a squad and we’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver on the qualities we want people to see when we run out on the field in Japan.”
Following the aforementioned warm-up against Samoa, the Wallabies will take on Fiji in the first of four group stage matches in Japan from September 21.
Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga’a, Michael Hooper (c), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese.
Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi (vc), Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, James O’Connor, Jordan Petaia*, Matt Toomua, Nic White.