Monday, 6 August 2012
Australia selectors will stick with the tried and trusted and infuse just a little new blood into their squad for the inaugural Rugby Championship.
A squad of 30 will be announced on Tuesday as the Wallabies gear up for a campaign that starts with back-to-back matches against the world champion All Blacks in Sydney on August 18 and in Auckland the following Saturday.
New Zealand selectors named only one new cap, Blues prop Charlie Faumuina, in their 28-man squad, which included just three specialist locks.
Australian selectors have a new backline complication with Rebels winger Cooper Vuna ruled out of at least the first Championship game after suffering a shoulder injury playing for his Melbourne club on the weekend.
With Joseph Tomane already on the injured list, the selectors could call up uncapped Dom Shipperley from Queensland.
James Horwill and Dan Vickerman are sidelined by long term injuries so one uncapped lock is set be named alongside Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons and Sitaleki Timani.
NSW Waratah Kane Douglas and Melbourne Rebels rookie Cadeyrn Neville were the two uncapped second-rowers who participated in last week's training camp.
A new face, or two, could also appear in the back row, where Wycliff Palu is injured and Ben McCalman has just returned from a long-term shoulder injury.
Reds youngster Jake Schatz looms as a bolter with the ability to play at blindside flanker or No.8, while exciting young openside flankers Liam Gill and Michael Hooper are contenders.
Injuries have eaten away at the depth of the props, with Salesi Maafu, Dan Palmer and Paddy Ryan all unavailable, but the established quartet of Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, James Slipper and Ben Alexander should all be right to go.
Vuna and Tomane apart, utilities James O'Connor and Pat McCabe are the other backs currently on the injured list.
With McCabe out, Wallabies selectors are likely to give themselves plenty of options in the inside backs.
Hard-running Queenslander Anthony Faingaa trained at inside centre at the final camp.
Mike Harris, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ben Tapuai and Rob Horne should all make the squad and be contenders for the No.12 jersey.
Another option would be to switch Berrick Barnes from five-eighth and bring back Quade Cooper into the pivot position, now he has some match fitness.
Cooper was one of a number of Wallabies who played club rugby last weekend.
The mercurial back was in sparkling form for Souths, playing the entire match in Brisbane after missing the Reds one Super finals fixture through suspension.
In Sydney, scrum anchor Robinson played 40 minutes for Eastwood.