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Eight Wallabies included in Australia A squad to feature at Pacific Nations Cup

By Alex McLeod
Reece Hodge of Australia warms up during the 2020 Tri-Nations match between the Australian Wallabies and the Argentina Pumas at McDonald Jones Stadium on November 21, 2020 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Eight Wallabies have been included in a 29-man Australia A squad set to face Fiji, Samoa and Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup next month.

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After missing out on Dave Rennie’s Wallabies squad to face England in July’s three-test series, numerous players who represented Australia last year will now play for the country’s second-tier team in the Fijian-based competition.

Chief among those players is Rebels utility back Reece Hodge, who is by far the most experienced player in the Australia A set-up with 54 test caps to his name.

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Hodge is joined by five of his Wallabies teammates from last year: Force front rowers Feleti Kaitu’u and Tom Robertson, Reds flanker Fraser McReight, Waratahs midfielder Lalakai Foketi and Reds wing Filipo Daugunu.

Those six players are accompanied by ex-Wallabies utility forward Ned Hanigan and one-test Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes as the internationally-capped prospects in the squad named by head coach Jason Gilmore.

A further three players – Reds fullback Jock Campbell, Waratahs first-five Ben Donaldson and Brumbies halfback Ryan Lonergan – have been named in the Australia A side after having been picked in a Wallabies training camp squad in March.

With such talent in his ranks, Gilmore is optimistic of achieving success against Pacific Island teams that have been significantly bolstered in the wake of World Rugby’s new eligibility laws.

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“The team has a good combination of experienced and young players and I think the team will get a lot out of the upcoming tournament in Fiji,” Gilmore said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“Looking at some of the names included in the squad it is apparent that the depth within Australian rugby continues to grow and I think our inclusion in the Pacific Nations Cup will be beneficial.”

Australia A will congregate in Sydney next Sunday before opening their Pacific Nations Cup campaign against Samoa at ANZ Stadium in Suva on July 2.

They will then face Fiji and Tonga at Churchill Park in Lautoka on July 9 and July 16, respectively.

Australia A squad for Pacific Nations Cup

Tim Anstee (Western Force)
Jock Campbell (Queensland Reds)
Filipo Daugunu (Queensland Reds)
Ben Donaldson (NSW Waratahs)
Tane Edmed (NSW Waratahs)
Matt Faessler (Queensland Reds)
Lalakai Foketi (NSW Waratahs)
Feao Fotuaika (Queensland Reds)
Matt Gibbon (Melbourne Rebels)
Langi Gleeson (NSW Waratahs)
Ned Hanigan (NSW Waratahs)
Will Harris (NSW Waratahs)
Reece Hodge (Melbourne Rebels)
Harry Hoopert (Queensland Reds)
Harry Johnson-Holmes (NSW Waratahs)
Feleti Kaitu’u (Western Force)
Ryan Lonergan (Brumbies)
Ryan McCauley (Western Force)
Fraser McReight (Queensland Reds)
Andy Muirhead (Brumbies)
Mark Nawaqanitawase (NSW Waratahs)
Dylan Pietsch (NSW Waratahs)
Billy Pollard (Brumbies)
Jackson Pugh (Western Force)
Tom Robertson (Western Force)
Ryan Smith (Queensland Reds)
Hamish Stewart (Queensland Reds)
Jake Strachan (Western Force)
Seru Uru (Queensland Reds)

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