Wallabies June Series squad: Five talking points

by Sam Phillips

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named the men charged with beating Ireland in June.

Now that the first Wallabies squad of the year has been unveiled, what are we talking about?

1. Cheika solidifies squad

Brandon Paenga-Amosa could earn a Wallabies cap in June. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika has blooded 27 Test debutants since the 2015 World Cup and if this squad is anything to go by, there may only be a handful of new Test caps handed out between June and September next year. There are very few bolters - if any - in this squad and only five potential debutants.Two of those - Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Folau Fainga'a - are in the shallow position of hooker. Caleb Timu looks a likely candidate to long be a part of this squad, with Tom Banks coming from the clouds to earn a berth. Jack Maddocks' inclusion will surprise no one that has watched him this season.

2. All eyes on World Cup

Taqele Naiyaravoro and Kane Douglas have been in fantastic form for the Waratahs and Reds respectively but with neither available for the World Cup, Cheika has handed opportunities to others. Naiyaravoro will be plying his trade for Northampton this time next year and Douglas will be in Bordeaux, neither qualifying for selection through the Giteau Law. On form both may have featured in this squad but with all eyes on the World Cup, their time in Wallaby gold has come and gone. 

 3. Hooker hangs in the air

Jordan Uelese is the only hooker with Test experience. Photo: Getty ImagesThere are two total Test caps between the three hookers named in this squad. Jordan Uelese lays claim to both of those, with Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Folau Fainga'a yet to make their Test debuts.The starting hooker job may be Uelese's to lose and if he is the one that faces off with Ireland skipper Rory Best, the Wallabies young gun will be 109 caps his junior.

4. Wingers cause selection headaches

Sefa Naivalu is a surprising inclusion. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThe Wallabies finished the Spring Tour with Marika Koroibete and Reece Hodge as locks on either side of the field but they face stiff competition in June. Dane Haylett-Petty is back, Jack Maddocks has shown he can excel on the flank, Sefa Naivalu is in the same boat and Tom Banks causes havoc with what feels like every touch of the football.Koroibete has found his feet for the Rebels over the past month after a slow start to the season and Hodge has shown he can play anywhere in the backline but having not played there for Melbourne this season, it may take some time to warm into his work. With Israel Folau a certain starter at fullback, it seems both spots are up for grabs. The forgotten man is Izaia Perese, who starred for the Reds against the Highlanders but couldn't force his way into the squad, having started just three Super Rugby matches due to a partial ACL tear.

5. Tupou's time to shine

On Super Rugby form alone, Taniela Tupou could arguably be running onto Suncorp Stadium next Saturday with the No. 3 on his back. But Sekope Kepu is a 91-Test warrior at tighthead prop and one would expect him to start on June 9. Whether he will still be the starting prop come The Rugby Championship is another matter entirely.