Fiji-born Brumbies winger Henry Speight has been included in Australia’s squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie also named Melbourne Rebels scrum-half Luke Burgess in his 32-man squad on Wednesday in place of Will Genia, who may still be recalled later in the series if he recovers from his ankle injury.
Winger Joe Tomane replaces Nick Cummins, who has left to play in Japan.
Speight won’t be eligible to play for the Wallabies until September 11 meaning he will miss the opening three games of the competition.
The squad, captained by Michael Hooper, includes 25 players who featured in Australia’s 3-0 sweep of France in June.
“We’ve come a long way as a group over the past 12 months and the consistency we’re now applying across selections, high-performance behaviours and our playing style is a positive sign that we are heading in the right direction,” McKenzie said.
“The challenge for us now is to continue this consistency throughout The Rugby Championship, beginning with a Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand.”
“It’s extremely pleasing to know we will have one Australian province in the Super Rugby Final and I wish both the NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies the best of luck for their clash on Saturday,” McKenzie said.
“It has been captivating to follow their respective journeys throughout 2014 and I’m confident their efforts – along with those of the Force, Rebels and Reds – will have a positive influence when the Test season begins.
“We understand a great deal of attention going into the match will be around the All Blacks and their motivation to create a new piece of history by winning a world-record 18 consecutive games.
“For us, it’s no secret that our desire to win back the Bledisloe Cup grows every year, but if our attention isn’t focused on the right areas during our preparations then it will be easy to get caught looking too far ahead.
“We recognise that and will have a clear understanding of how we are going to approach and prepare for the opening game.”
Players who have not been considered for selection due to injury include, but is not limited to, hooker Stephen Moore (knee), flankers David Pocock (knee) and Dave Dennis (knee), scrum-half Genia (ankle), fly-half Quade Cooper (shoulder), centre Kyle Godwin (knee) and outside back Chris Feauai-Sautia (shoulder).
The squad boasts a combined total of 781 Test appearances and includes players from all five Super Rugby provinces – Waratahs (11), Brumbies (11), Reds (4), Western Force (4) and the Melbourne Rebels (2).
The squad, minus those players participating in the Super Rugby Final, will assemble on Sunday 3 August.
The Rugby Championship opens with Australia hosting New Zealand in Sydney on August 16.
Forwards: Ben Alexander, Pek Cowan, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Scott Sio, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Hanson, Nathan Charles, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper (captain), Matt Hodgson, Wycliff Palu, Ben McCalman.
Backs: Nic White, Nick Phipps, Luke Burgess, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua, Christian Leali’ifano, Tevita Kuridrani, Rob Horne, Joe Tomane, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Henry Speight, Pat McCabe, Israel Folau.
- Planet Rugby