Wallabies squad just the start

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies squad announced on Thursday is far from set in stone, as Test season hits Australian shores.

Nine of the 39-man squad will be cut at the end of next week’s Sunshine Coast camp, but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said it was up to the players to earn their retention.

Ten of the squad is yet to play for the Wallabies but Cheika said that meant little going into the camp.

“Everyone’s gotta start sometime but I'm really been big on the idea that no one’s getting a cap for free,” he said.

“This is a special thing you get to play for Australia.
"You’re very lucky and you’ve earned it but...you’re very lucky to have the opportunity to play for Australia."

“We won’t just be giving caps away for the sake of it.

“Players will have earned them over what they’ve done in Super Rugby and what they show over the next week or two or over the next 3-4 weeks as the series rolls out.”

There may be some additions to this  squad as well, with the injured Matt Toomua in contention to return from injury through the series.

Matt Toomua could be back in the Test frame soon. Photo: Getty ImagesDepending on his recovery from a knee injury, Toomua could be injected into the Wallabies squad through the series and crack the matchday 23.

Injured lock Kane Douglas will also be involved in some way, as he works his way back from a knee reconstruction, though he can’t play at this time.

Cheika on Thursday said it was unlikely that winger Joe Tomane would make it back for any part of the England series.

Looking further down the track, there is a handful of overseas-based players who will be in contention for the Rugby Championship.

Will Genia, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell were all considered unavailable for the June series but will be likely looking at a return later in the year.

Cheika said the possibility of that quartet coming back into the fold shouldn’t scare the current squad.

“It’s not about keeping those guys out it’s more about doing the best for yourself and for your country on that day,” he said.

“I don’t think that Eto Nabuli’s going to be thinking, “Oh, I better hurry up here because Adam Ashley-Cooper’s not coming back for this series’,”

“He’s got to get himself in a frame of mind of ‘I want to get to my full potential as quickly as I possibly can because I could actually get a chance to play for Australia and what an honour that would be.

“I think he’s already expressed that to me and that’s something we want to push on with all our players and encourage them and if they don’t get there this time, come back harder the next time.”