New Australia boss Ewen McKenzie has named his first training squad ahead of the Rugby Championship, with the biggest news being the recall of Quade Cooper. The fly-half, with whom McKenzie worked at the Reds, had fallen out of favour with previous coach Robbie Deans but has been handed a lifeline.
The formers Reds head coach has also indicated that he considers incumbent outside half James O’Connor’s best position to be in the outside backs, a statement that will come to the great relief of the majority of Wallaby fans after he struggled in the position during the Lions series.
Back-up to Cooper comes in the shape of uncapped duo Bernard Foley of the Waratahs, and Matt Toomua of the Brumbies. Other debutants in the squad are scrum-half Nic White, centres Tevita Kuridrani and Chris Feauai-Sautia, winger Peter Betham, locks Hugh Pyle and Scott Fardy, prop Scott Sio and back-row Jake Schatz.
Kurtley Beale, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe and Scott Higginbotham were not considered due to injury while interestingly Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell and Sitaleki Timani were not in the running as they begin contracts overseas.
Australia training squad:
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Betham, Quade Cooper, Nick Cummins, Anthony Faingaa, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Mike Harris, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Jesse Mogg, James O’Connor, Nick Phipps, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White.
Forwards: Ben Alexander, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Faingaa, Scott Fardy, Liam Gill, Michael Hooper, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Peter Kimlin, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, Tatafu Polota Nau, Hugh Pyle, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper.
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images