Five uncapped players in Wallabies squad for Europe


  • Rugby
  • Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014

SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Australia coach Michael Cheika will have five uncapped players with him when he boards the flight for a four-test tour of Europe on Friday.

Cheika might not have had much to do with the squad's composition given he only signed his contract on Wednesday morning and the 33-strong party includes only one real surprise in 20-year-old Melbourne Rebels loose forward Sean McMahon.

The other uncapped players -- wingers Tom English and Henry Speight, centre Kyle Godwin and prop Tetera Faulkner -- were all in Ewen McKenzie's final squad before he sensationally quit the job last Saturday.

Fijian-born Speight, who qualified for Australia on residency grounds in September, would almost certainly have made his test debut already but for a hamstring injury and his powerful running will add a considerable weapon to Cheika's armoury.

Blindside flanker Scott Fardy has been ruled out of the tour after undergoing surgery on a long-standing knee problem but there was good news when Ben McCalman was passed fit to travel.

The Western Force number eight was expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the year by a shoulder injury he sustained against the Springboks last month.

Matt Toomua, who played at inside centre for much of the Rugby Championship, also returned to the squad after recovering from a concussion.

Last weekend's 29-28 reverse to New Zealand in Brisbane was a third defeat in a row for the Wallabies after losses on the road in South Africa and Argentina in the last two rounds of the Rugby Championship.

Cheika will bring former Wallaby Nathan Grey, his defence coach at the New South Wales Waratahs, with him on tour and has retained McKenzie's forwards coach Andrew Blades.

Nick Scrivener and Jim McKay, who looked after defence and attack respectively under McKenzie, have been let go.

Australia face the Barbarians at Twickenham on Nov 1 with tests against Wales, France, Ireland and England following in successive weeks.

Squad:

Forwards - Scott Higginbotham, Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper (captain), Matt Hodgson, Sean McMahon, Luke Jones, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, Will Skelton, Benn Robinson, Ben Alexander, Sekope Kepu, James Slipper, Tetera Faulkner, Saia Faingaa, James Hanson, Josh Mann-Rea. Backs - Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Joe Tomane, AdamAshley-Cooper, Tom English, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani,Christian Leali'ifano, Kyle Godwin, Matt Toomua, Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Nic White, Nick Phipps.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Julian Linden)

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