Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has unveiled a 38-man Wallabies squad for the upcoming home series against France.
The future is now for Australian rugby, with eleven uncapped players in the frame to make their debut in the three-Test series.
Rebels rising star Andrew Kellaway is one of the biggest bolters, following a promising season for the struggling Melbourne-based side. Lalakai Foketi is another surprise inclusion, with his form at the back end of the season for the Waratahs seeing him named.
Rennie has also rolled the dice on a number of injured players in the extended squad, with James O’Connor, Matt To’omua, Reece Hodge and James Slipper all named despite missing the final round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman. Izaia Perese has also been selected for his Wallabies debut, despite suffering a dislocated shoulder in the Waratahs’ loss to the Chiefs on Saturday night.
The news isn’t as good for Jordan Petaia, however, with the quad injury that has kept him out of the entire Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament enough to rule him out.
“Obviously the squad is a bit bigger than what we would normally have but we had to consider how we will handle the rigours of the Series against France,” Rennie said in a statement.
“We’ll get together on Tuesday and then start our preparations in earnest for what promises to be a really exciting Series against a side that’s at the top of its game.”
Lachlan Swinton hasn’t paid the price for his red card in the same match, though with a suspension looming, he remains in doubt for the series.
Reds prop Brandon Paenga-Amosa has been named, despite speculation his impending move to France could see him on the chopping block. The same goes for Rebels star Marika Koroibete, who is expected to sign with a Japanese club for next season.
Sitaleki Timani has also made a stunning return to international rugby, having last played for the Wallabies on their 2013 Spring Tour to Scotland, almost 3000 days ago.
Despite their impressive season, Timani is one of just two players from the Western Force that have made the cut, the other debutant hooker Feleti Kaitu’u.
A winless season hasn’t stopped Rennie from naming six Waratahs for July’s Tests: captain Michael Hooper, Angus Bell, Swinton, new duo Foketi and Perese and Tahs skipper Jake Gordon. Gordon has been picked despite a knee injury that ruled him out of the end of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament, and remains in doubt for the first Test at least.
Props: Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou (6)
Hookers: Feleti Kaitu’u, Lachlan Lonergan, Brandon Paenga-Amosa (3)
Second-rowers: Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Darcy Swain, Sitaleki Timani (4)
Loose forwards: Michael Hooper (c), Rob Leota, Fraser McReight, Isi Naisarani, Lachie Swinton, Rob Valetini, Michael Wells, Harry Wilson (8)
Halfbacks: Jake Gordon, Tate McDermott, Nic White (3)
Five-eighths: Noah Lolesio, James O’Connor (2)
Centres: Lalakai Foketi, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Izaia Perese, Matt To’omua (5)
Outside backs: Tom Banks, Filipo Daugunu, Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Marika Koroibete, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright (7)
The first Test will take place at the SCG on July 7.