Rugby Championship

The Rugby Championship 2016

Guess who’s back, back again? France-based stars bolster Australia squad as Wallabies seeks to defend Rugby Championship

Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Genia and Quade Cooper named by coach Michael Cheika ahead of August 20 opener against New Zealand

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 11:22am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 9:12pm

Coach Michael Cheika named five foreign-based stars and four uncapped players on Friday in a 33-man Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup campaigns starting this month.

The squad is bolstered by experienced French-based Test campaigners Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Genia and Quade Cooper in defence of Australia’s Rugby Championship crown.

Fly-half Cooper is due to return to Australia ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season following a brief stint with French powerhouse Toulon, where he linked with Giteau and Mitchell for the 2015-16 Top 14 season, while utility back Ashley-Cooper will look to add to his 114 test caps.

Fellow France-based scrum-half Genia is also included as he returns from a knee injury that has kept him out of action since January.

He edges out Nick Frisby, with winger Luke Morahan and prop Toby Smith also cut from the squad.

All four uncapped players included in Cheika’s initial squad – Allan Ala’alatoa, Reece Hodge, Tom Robertson and Lopeti Timani – were retained in the final squad ahead of the four nation tournament.

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Three debutants from the recent England test series are also in the running to add to their test tally with Samu Kerevi, Adam Coleman and Dane Haylett-Petty all included.

Lock Kane Douglas is in the squad for the first time this year after returning from a knee reconstruction, while his second row partner Rob Simmons has also made his way back from a shoulder injury which cut short his Super Rugby campaign.

Kurtley Beale, Rory Arnold and Joe Tomane were not considered for selection because of injury.

The Wallabies open their Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup campaigns against New Zealand in Sydney on August 20.

Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup

Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Quade Cooper, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Matt Giteau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Rob Horne, Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Drew Mitchell, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua

Forwards: Allan Ala’alatoa, Adam Coleman, Kane Douglas, Scott Fardy, James Hanson, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Stephen Moore (c), Dean Mumm, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Will Skelton, James Slipper, Lopeti Timani