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Wallabies call-up two players as injuries strike ahead of England series

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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The Wallabies have called two players into their squad ahead of next week’s series-opening test against England at Optus Stadium in Perth.

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In a social media post published on Friday, the Wallabies confirmed that newly-signed Rebels prop Sam Talakai and 25-test utility forward Ned Hanigan have been added to the national squad as injury cover.

Talakai, who has spent the last four years in Japan with Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath, joins the Australian set-up in place of Harry Johnson-Holmes.

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Johnson-Holmes, a one-test international whose only appearance for the Wallabies came against the Springboks in 2019, has been sidelined with a long-term Achilles injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the year.

The 25-year-old’s injury news comes after he recently returned from a knee injury sustained during his Super Rugby Pacific season with the Waratahs.

Having earlier been named in the Australia A squad for the upcoming Pacific Nations Cup, Johnson-Holmes has been replaced in Rennie’s squad by Talakai.

Formerly of the Reds and Waratahs, the 30-year-old is uncapped at test level, and will compete with Taniela Tupou, Allan Alaalatoa and Pone Fa’amausili for a berth at tighthead prop role.

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Hanigan, meanwhile, has been brought into the Wallabies camp in light of a report from the Sydney Morning Herald that uncapped Waratahs teammate Jed Holloway is in doubt for next Saturday’s test due to a calf complaint.

Capable of playing blindside flanker and lock, Hanigan was also named in the Australia A squad but will now eye his first test appearance since December 2020, when he last featured for the Wallabies against Los Pumas in Sydney.

The 27-year-old, who returned to Australia this year following a two-season spell with Japanese club Kurita Water Gush, faces stern competition for places at lock and blindside flanker, though.

Matt Philip and Darcy Swain are the most experienced options at lock, although uncapped Brumbies pair Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville may come into the reckoning.

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Rob Leota, Pete Samu and Rob Valetini, meanwhile, are all frontrunners to start in the No 6 jersey come next week.

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