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Cheika allows six Wallabies home

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Cheika allows six players fly back to Australia before Saturday's opener in South Africa

Australia coach Michael Cheika has trimmed his squad ahead of their weekend Rugby Championship opener against South Africa at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Six players will return to Australia with Jack Maddocks and Rob Valetini released for club duties this weekend.

Scott Sio (adductor) and Christian Leali’ifano (shoulder) will miss the Test against South Africa and will now complete their injury rehabilitation in their home cities before re-joining the squad in Brisbane next week.

Tom Robertson suffered an ankle injury at training on Tuesday and will return to Sydney for scans, but it is expected that he will miss next weekend’s clash with Argentina at Suncorp Stadium.

Marika Koroibete will also fly home to Melbourne to be with his family after the birth of his second child and will meet the official squad in Brisbane. NSW Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes will now join the squad in Johannesburg.

Cheika will name his side on Thursday in Johannesburg ahead of their 2019 campaign kicking off on Saturday (4.05pm BST). The Wallabies will then travel to Brisbane for their first home Test of 2019 when they face Argentina at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, July 27.

Koroibete had only flown out to South Africa after the squad had already departed. That delay allowed Cheika to switch over the flight booking to accommodate James O’Connor, who has since become eligible to play after signing a two-and-a-half year Rugby Australia deal to play for the Reds.

Saturday will be Australia’s first match under new attack coach Shaun Berne, the former Melbourne Rebels assistant who used to play for Cheika when they were together at Leinster.    

“I want to do whatever I can to make the Wallabies successful this year,” said Berne. “I want to contribute to the team by focusing on the things that will serve us best when we are under pressure, like passing, catching, alignment, running lines and deception – on and off the ball.”

WATCH: Nic White talks about his return to the Wallabies squad for the first time since 2015

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Cheika allows six players fly back to Australia before Saturday's opener in South Africa