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Eight years after last Wallabies appearance, Sitaleki Timani named alongside eleven debutants in first Australia squad of 2021

By AAP

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Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has gone with form over reputation, including 11 uncapped players in his 38-man squad to take on France in a three-test series next month.

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Michael Hooper has returned from Japan to captain the side, with the first test to be played in Sydney on July 7, followed by Melbourne and Brisbane – the entire series to be completed in just 11 days.

The biggest change has come at hooker, with only Queensland’s Brandon Paenga-Amosa remaining from last year’s Rugby Championship.

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Brumbies rake Lachlan Lonergan and Feleti Kaitu’u from the Western Force are the new faces, with regulars Folau Fainga’a and Jordan Uelese axed.

Kaitu’u is one of two Force players named, joined by 34-year-old lock Sitaleki Timani, whose last test match was back in 2013.

Melbourne lock Matt Philip, who has been playing in France, has also been included, along with young, uncapped Brumbies second-rower Darcy Swain.

The Brumbies have the most representatives with 12, with nine from the Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels, and six NSW Waratahs despite their winless year, with halfback Jake Gordon included despite being sidelined with a knee injury.

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Powerful NSW centre Izaia Perese was named however he may be ruled out after suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder against the Chiefs on Saturday night.

His firebrand teammate, flanker Lachie Swinton, could also miss the series after receiving a red card in the match.

Melbourne’s utility back Reece Hodge has overcome a knee injury to take his place.

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Rebels winger Andrew Kellaway only arrived back in Australia from Japan a month ago, but did enough in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman to catch the eye of Rennie.

With an average age of 25, as well as having 11 uncapped players, the squad includes a further 14 who have played fewer than 10 tests.

“We’ve picked this squad on form and on potential, and I know the whole group will be really excited to get stuck in and push their case for a Wallaby jersey against France,” Rennie said.

“Obviously the squad is a bit bigger than what we would normally have but we had to consider how we will handle the rigours of the series.”

The uncapped players are Pone Fa’amausili, Lalakai Foketi, Ikitau, Kaitu’u, Kellaway, Rob Leota, Lonergan, Andy Muirhead, Perese, Swain and Michael Wells.

The full squad will gather on Tuesday on the Gold Coast.

Wallabies squad:

Allan Alaalatoa (43, Brumbies, 27)
Tom Banks (11, Brumbies, 26)
Angus Bell (3, NSW Waratahs, 20)
Filipo Daugunu (5, Queensland Reds, 26)
Pone Fa’amausili* (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 24)
Lalakai Foketi* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 26)
Jake Gordon (5, NSW Waratahs, 27)
Reece Hodge (45, Melbourne Rebels, 26)
Michael Hooper © (105, Verblitz/NSW Waratahs, 29)
Len Ikitau* (uncapped, Brumbies, 22)
Feleti Kaitu’u* (uncapped, Western Force, 26)
Andrew Kellaway* (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 25)
Marika Koroibete (34, Melbourne Rebels, 28)
Rob Leota* (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 24)
Noah Lolesio (2, Brumbies, 21)
Lachlan Lonergan* (uncapped, Brumbies, 21)
Tate McDermott (2, Queensland Reds, 22)
Fraser McReight (1, Queensland Reds, 22)
Andy Muirhead* (uncapped, Brumbies, 28)
Isi Naisarani (8, Melbourne Rebels, 26)
James O’Connor (55, Queensland Reds, 30)
Brandon Paenga-Amosa (9, Queensland Reds, 25)
Hunter Paisami (6, Queensland Reds, 23)
Izaia Perese* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 24)
Matt Philip (9 Tests, Pau/Melbourne Rebels, 27)
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (25, Queensland Reds, 24)
Scott Sio (68, Brumbies, 29)
James Slipper (100, Brumbies, 32)
Darcy Swain* (uncapped, Brumbies, 23)
Lachie Swinton (1, NSW Waratahs, 24)
Sitaleki Timani (18, Western Force, 34)
Matt To’omua (54, Melbourne Rebels, 31)
Taniela Tupou (25, Queensland Reds, 25)
Rob Valetini (4 Tests, Brumbies, 22)
Michael Wells* (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 28)
Nic White (37, Brumbies, 31)
Harry Wilson (6, Queensland Reds, 21)
Tom Wright (3, Brumbies, 23)
*denotes uncapped

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Eight years after last Wallabies appearance, Sitaleki Timani named alongside eleven debutants in first Australia squad of 2021

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