Head coach Ewen McKenzie has named his first Australia squad, including eight uncapped players. The potential debutants are fly-halves Matt Toomua and Bernard Foley, back-rowers Scott Fardy and Jake Schatz, prop Scott Sio, hooker Albert Anae, centre Tevita Kuridrani and scrumhalf Nic White.
“I was really impressed with how each individual responded to the competitiveness of the opening week of camp and I’m pleased to say that the players’ attitude and uptake of our programme was at a very high level,” McKenzie said. “It’s unfortunate that a number of good players missed out although this isn’t necessarily a case of poor performance but rather a reflection of some of the quality we have coming through in Australian Rugby right now.
“For the moment though, we’ve narrowed our way down to a group of players we believe are capable of getting the job done against the All Blacks in just over a week. That doesn’t mean the players chosen won’t change in the future and that those who have missed out this time will be forgotten.”
Veteran lock James Horwill will take charge once again of what is an incredibly young squad, with an average age of under 25 and just one player – Stephen Moore – over 30. And the young squad open their Rugby Championship campaign against great rivals New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup on August 17th.
“The reality is not one player in the current squad has lifted up the Bledisloe Cup before, but if they are good enough over seven days and two matches then this will change,” said McKenzie. “That’s an exciting challenge and one the group must get their minds around quickly if we are going to be successful.”
Forwards: Ben Alexander, Albert Anae, Kane Douglas, Saia Faingaa, Scott Fardy, Liam Gill, Michael Hooper, James Horwill (captain), Sekope Kepu, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper.
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Quade Cooper, Nick Cummins, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali’ifano, Jesse Mogg, James O’Connor, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White.