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Australia A to return as part of Pacific Nations Cup

Thu, 19/05/2022, 7:12 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Australia A will make its return as part of the Pacific Nations Cup. Photo: Getty Images
Australia A will make its return as part of the Pacific Nations Cup. Photo: Getty Images

Rugby Australia has confirmed the long-awaited return of Australia A after World Rugby's invitation to play as part of the Pacific Nations Cup.

The squad will play three matches against Samoa on July 2 in Suva, Fiji on July 9 in Lautoka, before completing their tournament against Tonga on July 16 – also in Lautoka.

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“Our High Performance review highlighted a relative lack of game time for the younger, developing professional players in our system,” RA CEO Andy Marinos said in a statement.

“With Super Rugby Pacific, they will likely play around 14 first-class matches in a typical season – not including pre-season or Finals – and some players in NSW and QLD have the opportunity to transfer into Shute Shield and Hospital Cup.

“Alongside working on competition structures that can help to alleviate this relative lack of game time, one of our priorities has been to re-establish Australia A to provide additional top-flight matches.

“This will help to develop a deeper squad of elite players, as well as giving players some representative experience to take back to their Super Rugby Pacific clubs – which can only be a good thing for Australian rugby."

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Australia last featured in the 2008 edition of the tournament, finishing second behind the Junior All Blacks.

The side will be coached by former Junior Wallabies and Waratahs defence coach Jason Gilmore, with Brumbies Attack Coach Rod Seib, the Reds’ Defence Coach Michael Todd, and Rebels Forwards Coach Geoff Parling filling out the coaching staff.

This comes as RA reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring further opportunities for the program heading into the future.

"Rugby Australia is committed to the return of Australia A, and the benefits that it can help deliver to the game in this country – and will continue to evaluate opportunities for the programme to play more matches in future," they added.

"The return of Australia A also creates an opportunity to help develop Australia’s coaching ranks, with well-regarded emerging coaches being named to lead the side."

Pacific Nations Cup schedule

2 July: Australia A vs Samoa, Suva, Fiji (Time TBC)

9 July: Fiji vs Australia A, Lautoka, Fiji (Time TBC)

16 July: Australia A vs Tonga, Lautoka, Fiji (Time TBC)

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