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First Qantas Wallabies Training Squad named

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By Qantas Wallabies Media Unit

The return of the previously injured Test wingers Drew Mitchell & Lachie Turner, and the inclusion of Western Force winger Nick Cummins, Melbourne Rebels midfield back Mitch Inman and the NSW Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan are notable features of the Qantas Wallabies train on squad for the upcoming Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship which has been named at the 2012 Bledisloe Cup Festival launch in Sydney this morning.

Twenty-seven players have been named in a provisional group which will assemble in Sydney for a three-day camp between July 24-26.

The training group will be supplemented by three players – an outside backs and two loose forwards – from within the ranks of the national Rugby Academy programme.

Their presence allows for fully opposed training sessions, while also introducing the younger players to the standards of preparation required within the senior national team framework.

No Queensland Reds players have been considered due to their on-going FxPro Super Rugby playoffs commitments and the uncertainty that places over their availability.

Western Force lock Nathan Sharpe has also been rested from the camp.

The return of Mitchell and Turner, neither of whom were considered fit enough for selection in June as they continued their respective returns from injury, was flagged when the pair trained with the Wallabies in the lead-up to last month’s 20-19 win in the final Test of The Castrol EDGE Wales Tour in Sydney.

Kurtley Beale, who made his Test return for the year in that match, has been included today, but his Melbourne Rebels team-mate James O’Connor remains on the sideline as he continues rehabilitation from a hamstring strain.

The upcoming training camp is the first of two that will be held before the Qantas Wallabies squad for the inaugural Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship assembles in Sydney on August 7 to prepare for the opening Bledisloe Cup Test in the city.

The second camp is in Sydney on August 1-3, with the 30-man squad for The Championship to be finalised following that gathering.

Consistent with the approach in previous seasons, the involvement of a wider group of players in preparation allows a greater number to be exposed to Wallaby methods and trainings, so the base knowledge is there when injuries or form loss requires personnel changes.

This takes on an even greater importance this year looking ahead to the Spring Tour which, unlike in previous seasons, follows hard on the heels of the domestic Test programme, with the touring party departing just 10 days after the third Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Brisbane on October 20.

“The camps provide us with an important opportunity for training background,” Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says.

“It gives us the chance to bring the whole group together and familiarise them with the method: ‘tune’ them in to Wallaby content if you like, coming as they are, out of the conclusion of their different state programmes from FxPro Super Rugby.”

Deans is not fazed by the unavailability of Queensland Reds players for the opening camp.

“It’s a win-win,” he says.

“If they advance to the semi-final and beyond, we have players gaining exposure to the highest level and, more importantly, the highest intensity of provincial rugby you can get. That’s great background for what’s coming in The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.”

The first Qantas Wallabies training squad ahead of the inaugural Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship is: Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels), Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs), Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs), Nick Cummins (Western Force), Cooper Vuna (Melbourne Rebels), Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs), Mitch Inman (Melbourne Rebels), Pat McCabe (Brumbies), Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs),  Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs), Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels), Nic White (Brumbies), Ben Mowen (Brumbies), David Pocock (Western Force), Michael Hooper (Brumbies), Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs), Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs), Cadeyrn Neville (Melbourne Rebels), Hugh Pyle (Melbourne Rebels), Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs), Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Paddy Ryan (NSW Waratahs), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs).

* One as yet un-named outside back and two loose forwards from the national Academy programme will be invited to join training at the first camp.

* The players who were not considered because of injury are: Salesi Ma’afu (Western Force), Dan Palmer (Brumbies), James Horwill (Queensland Reds), Ben McCalman (Western Force), Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs), Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies), James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels), Joe Tomane (Brumbies).

The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship Dates

Bledisloe Cup - #1
August 18: Qantas Wallabies v New Zealand, Sydney (ANZ), 8pm
August 18: South Africa v Argentina, Cape Town

Bledisloe Cup - #2
August 25: Qantas Wallabies v New Zealand, Auckland, 7.35pm
August 25: Argentina v South Africa, Mendoza

Mandela Challenge Plate - #1
September 8: Qantas Wallabies v South Africa, Perth, 6.30pm
September 8: New Zealand v Argentina, Wellington

September 15: Qantas Wallabies v Argentina, Gold Coast, 8pm
September 15: New Zealand v South Africa, Dunedin

Mandela Challenge Plate - #2
September 29: Qantas Wallabies v South Africa, Pretoria, 3pm
September 29: Argentina v New Zealand, La Plata

October 6: Qantas Wallabies v Argentina, Rosario, 8pm
October 6: South Africa v New Zealand, Soweto

Bledisloe Cup Test - #3
October 20: Qantas Wallabies v New Zealand, Brisbane, 8pm