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Australia included in revived Pacific Nations Cup tournament in July

By AAP
(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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Test hopefuls will have another stage to press their claims for Rugby World Cup selection with an Australia A squad competing in the Pacific Nations Cup this July in Fiji.

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While the Wallabies take on England in three tests in July in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, a development squad will play three matches against test line-ups from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.

Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos says the return of Australia A is a way to get more high-level rugby into Super Rugby players, with the National Rugby Championship (NRC) no longer in place.

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Australia A played regularly between 2000 and 2008 – even recording a surprise win over the 2001 British and Irish Lions – and has been considered a launching pad for test careers.

“Our High Performance review highlighted a relative lack of game time for the younger, developing professional players in our system,” Marinos said in a statement on Thursday.

“Alongside working on competition structures that can help to alleviate this relative lack of game time, one of our priorities has been to re-establish Australia A to provide additional top-flight matches.

“This will help to develop a deeper squad of elite players, as well as giving players some representative experience to take back to their Super Rugby Pacific clubs – which can only be a good thing for Australian rugby.”

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The concept will also provide another level of experience for emerging coaches with Waratahs defence coach Jason Gilmore named to head the side.

Brumbies attack coach Rod Seib, Reds defence coach Michael Todd, and Rebels forwards coach Geoff Parling will be Gilmore’s assistants.

Selection in Australia A may affect players with multiple heritage as under World Rugby rules a senior team captures eligibility.

This would affect players who wish to make themselves available for selection for another country before next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

2022 Pacific Nations Cup schedule (kick-off in local time)

July 2:

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Australia A v Samoa in Suva at 1pm

Fiji v Tonga in Suva at 3:30pm

July 9:

Fiji v Australia A in Lautoka (TBC kick-off time)

Samoa v Tonga in Lautoka (TBC kick-off time)

July 16:

Tonga v Australia A in Lautoka (TBC kick-off time)

Fiji v Samoa in Lautoka (TBC kick-off time)

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