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Eddie Jones picks Michael Hooper to start for Barbarians days after criticism

By Josh Raisey
Michael Hooper of Barbarians looks on during Barbarians training at Sophia Gardens on October 31, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales. The Barbarians play Wales on Saturday November 4th in Cardiff (Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images for Barbarians)

Australia make up almost half the Barbarians squad that Scott Robertson and Eddie Jones have named to face Wales on Saturday in Cardiff, despite Jones leaving his role as Wallabies head coach just days ago.

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Wales great Alun Wyn Jones will captain the side against his countrymen at the Principality Stadium and will be joined by longtime teammate Justin Tipuric in the starting XV after the pair announced their international retirement before the World Cup.

Ten out of the 23-player squad are from Australia, eight of which Jones selected for their disappointing World Cup campaign. Most noticeably is the inclusion of longstanding captain Michael Hooper in the invitational side’s XV, who was one of the two players that were not picked for Australia, alongside Len Ikitau. What’s more, Jones said recently that he did not think the flanker was a good role model for his Wallabies side.

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WATCH as two-time World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi gives an emotional farewell speech to departing coacj Jacques Nienaber

Hooper will nevertheless take the No7 jersey on Saturday in the side coached by Jones and soon-to-be All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson. Wales’ Jamie Roberts and Mark Jones have also been part of the coaching staff this week, while England’s Will Greenwood will join the group for the match.

There is also a large contingent from New Zealand and Fiji in the squad, as well as Argentinian duo Nicolas Sanchez and Lautaro Bazan Velez despite both playing in the Pumas’ World Cup bronze final against England on Friday.

Barbarians XV
1. Joe Moody (New Zealand)
2. Tevita Ikanivere (Fiji)
3. Taniela Tupou (Australia)
4. Rob Leota (Australia)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (C) (Wales)
6. Justin Tipuric (Wales)
7. Michael Hooper (Australia)
8. Rob Valetini (Australia)
9. Simione Kuruvoli (Fiji)
10. Nicolas Sanchez (Argentina)
11. Selestino Ravutaumada (Fiji)
12. Izaia Perese (Australia)
13. Len Ikitau (Australia)
14. Shaun Stevenson (New Zealand)
15. Ilasia Droasese (Fiji)

Replacements
16. Angus Bell (Australia)
17. Asafo Aumua (New Zealand)
18. Peni Ravai (Fiji)
19. Api Ratuniyarawa (Fiji)
20. Tom Hooper (Australia)
21. Lautaro Bazan Velez (Argentina)
22. Ben Donaldson (Australia)
23. Andrew Kellaway (Australia)

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