European Wallabies will all be back: Cheika

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies will have all their European reinforcements back for the Rugby Championship, coach Michael Cheika said.

Cheika went to Europe earlier this year and received positive responses from every eligible player, including World Cup heroes Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and Will Genia.

That quartet was missed in some pressure moments for the Wallabies in the June series, with a 3-0 result giving Cheika cause to believe that no one would be expecting anything but pain from the upcoming Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.

Giteau is the only one of the quartet yet to confirm his desire to come to Australia for the Rugby Championship but Cheika said "everyone wants to come back" including the playmaker.

Australia’s new faces were most exposed in the second row, especially on a night where starting lock Rob Simmons was forced off with injury, pushing Scott Fardy into the second row., a concerning sign arouns Australia's depth.

Cheika said the blooded players had impressed him, though.

“This series was a lot about that about building some as well,” he said.

“In the absence of other players, we’ve been giving guys opportunities and getting them blooded.Now, that’s not an excuse for not winning...we had opportunities to win the games with new players.

“That’s something we have done, with Samu Kerevi, Dane Haylett-Petty, Rory Arnold...They’ve come in and played good footy.

“[There was Adam] Coleman tonight and there’s a couple of players we’ve liked in the background that haven’t played games that we think will play in the Rugby Championship.

“We’ll get some back from injury and Europe into our squad as well.”

Giteau was sorely missed against England. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Wallabies have already welcomed back Sekope Kepu and Taqele Naiyaravoro from overseas stints, while lock James Horwill was called up from London’s Harlequins for this squad.

Even Quade Cooper could be back in the mix, if the former Reds 10 signs with an Australian franchise ahead of the 2017 season.

With the first Bledisloe in Sydney on August 20, the Wallabies have the chance to bring back more overseas-based players and some key talent that has been sitting on the sideline.

Winger Joe Tomane could be back in the fold by then, along with injured second rower Kane Douglas, who the Wallabies sorely missed against England.

Backrower David Pocock will also be back from a fractured cheekbone by that time, giving the side more flexibility.

The extent of Simmons’s injury, to his right AC joint, is not yet known but Cheika said it was on the more severe end of the scale.