Slipper to return from suspension against Wallabies

The Rugby Championship
by Iain Payten

Queensland prop James Slipper will make his comeback from a drug suspension playing against the Wallabies at Leichhardt Oval.

Slipper has been named to play for the Super Rugby selection side in the trial match against Michael Cheika's squad after his 8 week-ban expired last week.

The 86-Test prop was suspended by the ARU and QRU in May after registering a second positive test for cocaine. Slipper expressed regret and remorse at the time, saying he'd been battling mental health problems due to  the illness of his mother and injury.

Queensland coach Brad Thorn is likely to not recall Slipper to the Reds team but Cheika is of a different mindset, and is believed to have requested the 29-year-old play in the Wallabies trial.
Slipper has been training during his suspension with Bond University, though he has not played a game in 10 weeks.

“James’ enthusiasm has really impressed me since we invited him to join. He’s keen to be back out there and training hard but also really wants to get his old Wallabies teammates firing ahead of that first Bledisloe. That just shows the character of the bloke,” Super XV co-coach John Manenti said.


Manenti and Tim Walsh revealed the rest of their squad on Tuesday, with Melbourne skipper Tom English captaining a team containing six Rebels players.

Three Wallabies will be in the side - locks Matt Philip and Blake Enever and backrower Richard Hardwick - and contenders Anaru Rangi, Angus Cottrell and Duncan  Paia’aua are also in the team.

Livewire Reds players Moses Sorovi and Filipo Dagunu are in the backline.

With players from the Waratahs and finals-bound clubs not considered, several bolters were also named in the shape of Pat Sio (Scott's younger brother) and former Aussie sevens star Pama Fou, who spent time with the Rebels over the last two years.

Sydney club Eastwood have supplied several players, given they have a bye this weekend in the Shute Shield.

Flyhalf Andrew Deegan and flanker Tevin Ferris will represent the Western Force at Leichhardt Oval

Head Coach John Manenti said: “We’ll have some fun this week but make no mistake, we will prepare as best we can to give Cheik’s side a real shake on Friday night.

“I know how important this game could prove to be ahead of the Bledisloe Cup so we need to play with real accuracy and plenty of intensity straight from the kickoff.

“I have to thank the Super Rugby coaches and Club Rugby coaches across Australia for being so accommodating in letting us borrow their players for what’s set to be a special night in Sydney.

“James’ (Slipper) enthusiasm has really impressed me since we invited him to join. He’s keen to be back out there and training hard but also really wants to get his old Wallabies teammates firing ahead of that first Bledisloe. That just shows the character of the bloke,” Manenti said.

The game at Leichhardt Oval kicks off at 6.45pm and is free entry. It will be streamed live and free on RUGBY.com.au.

TEAM

Australian Super Rugby selection to face Wallabies

1. James Slipper (Bond University/Queensland Reds)

2. Anaru Rangi (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels)

3. Sam Talakai (Box Hill/Melbourne Rebels)

4. Blake Enever (Easts/Brumbies)

5. Matt Philip (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels)

6. Angus Cottrell (Power House/Melbourne Rebels)

7. Richard Hardwick (Harlequins/Melbourne Rebels)

8. Pat Sio (Eastwood)

9. Moses Sorovi (Wests/Queensland Reds)

10. Andrew Deegan (Wanneroo/Western Force)

11. Filipo Daugunu (Wests/Queensland Reds)

12. Duncan Paia’aua (Norths/Queensland Reds)

13. Tom English – captain (Melbourne Unicorns/Melbourne Rebels)

14. Pama Fou (Eastwood)

15. Semisi Tupou (Box Hill/Melbourne Rebels)

Reserves

16. Hugh Roach (Eastwood/NSW Waratahs)

17. Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne University/Melbourne Rebels)

18. Mees Erasmus (Easts/Brumbies)

19. Angus Blyth (Bond University/Queensland Reds)

20. Tevin Ferris (Nedlands/Western Force)

21. Mick Snowden (Eastwood)

22. Sam Lane (Manly)

23. Fabian Goodall (Eastwood)