Nick Phipps, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Quade Cooper are three of the biggest names missing from the Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship.
Cooper signed with the Rebels for 2019 and started the season off with a hiss and a roar, but has lost form at the most important of times.
Instead, Christian Leali’ifano and Matt Toomu, who both returned from overseas this year, will cover first five, alongside mainstay Bernard Foley. Kurtley Beale can also cover the 10 jersey.
The other major omission in the halves is Nick Phipps, who has accrued 70 caps for the Wallabies. Phipps, who has never been a favourite of the wider public, has lost out to Nic White, Will Genia and Joe Powell.
On the selections, Cheika said “We tried to look at Super Rugby form and what they can bring. We’ve done a lot of preparation in the last few years, exposing young players to senior footy and now we want to see those players in the Test environment wherever possible.
“It was tough, really tough. It was the first time we’ve worked as a selection panel with different voices and different opinions challenging each other but I think we’ve come to a better outcome than if I was just picking it myself.
“I’m not the expert to speak on what Christian has been through, only he knows that and his family. What you can’t deny is his form in Super Rugby at the end of the day. If you take out all the other things that he’s achieved, he’s been playing good in Super Rugby and deserves to be there.
“Nic White has earned his chance, his form in the UK has been outstanding and that’s why we pushed hard to get him back. He’s finding his voice inside the team and now we have some really good options at halfback in this team,” Cheika said.
Polota-Nau, the most experienced hooker available for selection, has evidently not shown enough to earn selection for the Wallabies. The three rakes in the squad are Tolu Latu, Jordan Uelese and Folau Fainga’a. The former two have played very little rugby this year on account of suspensions in Latu’s case, and injury in Uelese’s case.
The three hookers have just 21 caps between them.
The only three uncapped players in the squad are all back-rowers. Isi Naisarani has only recently become eligible for Australia but travelled with the team at the end of last year, while Liam Wright will cover openside flanker in David Pocock’s absence. 20-year-old Brumby Rob Valetini is the last potential debutant.
James O’Connor is also absent from the squad after making a mad dash to return to Australia from Sale Sharks.
Backs: Tom Banks, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale, Jack Maddocks, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Samu Kerevi, Matt Toomua, Bernard Foley, Christian Lealiifano, Will Genia, Nic White, Joe Powell.
Forwards: Isa Naisarani, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Liam Wright, Luke Jones, Rob Valetini, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Rory Arnold, Sekope Kepu, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tu pou, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Tom Robertson, Folau Fainga’a, Tolu Latu, Jordan Uelese.
Bernard Foley discusses the upcoming Rugby Championship:
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