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Wallabies squad 2020

Michael Hooper and the Wallabies. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Wallabies squad is picked from available Australian players who play in Super Rugby, or who play in overseas competition as long as they have seven years of Australian rugby experience and at least 60 Test caps under their belts.

With an eight-match international season confirmed for 2020, Dave Rennie has named a 44-man squad entirely of Super Rugby AU players. However, with Rugby Australia creating a loophole in the Giteau Law to allow two overseas-based players who don’t meet the 60-cap criteria to be selected, and with SANZAAR regulations permitting 46-man squads due to the bubble conditions made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic, another couple of players are set to be added before the Tests begin.

Wallabies 2020 Test squad

Forwards Backs
Props Scrumhalves
Jermaine Ainsley Jake Gordon
Allan Alaalatoa Tate McDermott
Angus Bell Joe Powell
Pone Fa’amausili Nic White
Harry Johnson-Holmes
Scott Sio
James Slipper
Taniela Tupou
Hookers Flyhalves
Folau Fainga’a Will Harrison
Tom Horton Noah Lolesio
Brandon Paenga-Amosa Matt To’omua
Jordan Uelese
Locks Centres
Ned Hanigan Reece Hodge
Trevor Hosea Len Ikitau
Matt Philip James O’Connor
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto Hunter Paisami
Rob Simmons Jordan Petaia
Irae Simone
Loose forwards Outside backs
Michael Hooper Tom Banks
Fraser McReight Filipo Daugunu
Pete Samu Dane Haylett-Petty
Lachie Swinton Marika Korobiete
Rob Valetini Jack Maddocks
Harry Wilson James Ramm
Liam Wright Tom Wright

There’s a clear focus on youth and moving onto the next generation of Wallabies in Rennie’s squad. Sixteen players were uncapped when selected, while only six were aged 30 or older.

One of the casualties of that focus on blooding the next group of Australian internationals is Tevita Kuridrania. The experienced outside centre was left out of the side entirely on the back of some sub-par form for the Brumbies in Super Rugby AU.

Back-rower Isi Naisarani was another surprising omission. While the number eight was a strong performer for the Rebels, concerns about his fitness level – he didn’t play his first game of Super Rugby AU until midway through the season – have seen him be overlooked by Rennie and his team. Jack Dempsey who, like Kuridrani and Naisarani, was part of last year’s World Cup squad, was also not selected.

The back row stocks are strong even with Dempsey and Naisarani out, even if there’s a lack of experience. Michael Hooper is comfortably the player with the most Test gametime under his belt, and Pete Samu is another proven performer, while the remaining Fraser McReight, Rob Valetini, Harry Wilson and Liam Wright have lots of potential. Hooper’s Waratahs teammate Lachie Swinton is the only real bolter in the group.

The second row is light on depth, with only five players picked: Ned Hanigan, Trevor Hosea, Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Rob Simmons. It is expected that at least one of the two overseas players yet to be named will be at lock, with Rory Arnold and Will Skelton both possibilities.

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Twelve front-rowers have been named; four hookers and eight props. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Folau Fainga’a, Jordan Uelese and Tom Horton are the contenders at no.2, while there’s both experience – in the form of Allan Alaalatoa, James Slipper, and Scott Sio – and youth in the front row, with Taniela Tupou, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jermaine Ainsley, Angus Bell and cult favourite Pone Fa’amausili all in the early stages of their international careers. Both Bell and Fa’amausili are uncapped.

Moving into the backs, and there are few surprises in the halves. Nic White leads a scrumhalf cohort which also includes fellow Brumby Joe Powell, uncapped Reds halfback Tate McDermott and one-cap Wallaby Jake Gordon. Will Harrison and Noah Lolesio, both of whom starred for the Junior Wallabies in 2020 and impressed in their first Super Rugby seasons, are joined by Matt To’omua as the flyhalves.

Reece Hodge and James O’Connor are by far and away the most experienced centres in the squad, with Jordan Petaia the only other midfielder with a Test cap to his name prior to 2020. O’Connor and Petaia’s Reds teammate Hunter Paisami has also been picked, as have Brumbies Irae Simone and Len Ikitau, the latter of whom is the biggest bolter in the entire squad.

Finally to the outside backs, which have been named as expected. Tom Banks, Dane Haylett-Petty and Jack Maddocks are the fullbacks, with reigning John Eales medallist Marika Koroibete battling it out with uncapped trio James Ramm, Tom Wright and Filipo Daugunu for a place on the wings.

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