Earlier today Michael Cheika announced his 31-man Australian Wallabies squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan next month. Cheika, not afraid to take a risk, has named an uncapped rookie who has spent most of the season out with injury, along with an evergreen 35 year old veteran! Is this a sign of lacking options in Australian rugby?!
Let’s start with the surprise, which to many in Australian circles may have seen coming. Jordan Petaia, uncapped and just 19 years of age, the versitial back has only ticked up two appearances at Super Rugby level this season, but Cheika had seen enough to name the youngest ever Wallaby in a Rugby World Cup squad.
On the flip side to the naming of Petaia, the veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has beaten out names like Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks, to take aim at his fourth Rugby World Cup. Versatility is certainly the aim for Cheika with the ability of covering positions backing up his decision to leave Joe Powell and Nick Phibbs at home and take just two scrum halves. Bernard Foley already hand picked for those desperate situations he may be required for at nine.
The Wallabies will however take three hookers to the Rugby World Cup. With Folau Faingaa and Tolu Latu comfortably the top two, the third name has seen youth win out again. The 22 year old Jordan Uelese, with just two international caps, has got the nod over the much more experienced Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Fully expected was the naming of David Pocock despite his season long injury and never being fully fit for a game of rugby. Big questions are on the impact he may have, if any.
Former Crusader Pete Samu can’t force his way into the squad after a strong Super Rugby season with the Brumbies and joins a decent list of Wallabies who failed to make the cut. After all the media attention around Will Skelton ditching Saracens for a shot at the cup, it’s all ended in a whimper with the deal never seeming to gathering momentum.
How well do you see the Wallabies going at the Rugby World Cup in 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Below is the full squad:
Wallabies 31-man World Cup squad:
Props: Allan Alaalatoa, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Taniela Tupou, Scott Sio.
Hookers: Folau Faingaa, Tolu Latu, Jordan Uelese.
Second-rowers: Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons. Back-rowers: Michael Hooper (c), David Pocock, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Isi Naisarani, Jack Dempsey.
Halfbacks: Nic White, Will Genia.
Five-eighths: Christian Lealiifano, Matt Toomua, Bernard Foley.
Centres: Samu Kerevi, James O’Connor, Tevita Kuridrani.
Outside backs: Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jordan Petaia, Adam Ashley-Cooper