France-based stars Will Skelton, Rory Arnold and Tolu Latu have been confirmed in the Wallabies Spring Tour squad as Australia’s foreign legion continues to grow.
The powerful trio of forwards will miss the opening tour game against Japan on October 23 but be available for the following Tests against Scotland, England and Wales.
Locks Skelton and Arnold in particular will give Australia an enormous physical presence against the rugged Six Nations packs.
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Skelton is 2.03m and 125kg while Arnold is 2.08m and 120kg.
The former returns to Wallabies gold after a five-year exile as Rugby Australia loosen their restrictions on picking players from overseas clubs.
There are now six in Dave Rennie’s touring squad of 37 with Japan-based stars Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon also included.
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“To have a few experienced players from overseas join us will no doubt help our development as we continue to grow and improve as a team, while those back here in Australia will get a decent offseason to make the necessary shifts in their games to excel at Test level,” coach Rennie said.
Among the prominent players not picked are Noah Lolesio, Harry Wilson, Scott Sio, Fraser McReight, Suliasi Vunivalu, Andy Muirhead and Ryan Lonergan.
There are four uncapped players in Waratahs centres Izaia Perese and Lalakai Foketi, Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney and Rebels prop Pone Fa’amausili.
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The Wallabies are flying after winning four straight Rugby Championship Tests for the first time and rising to third in the world rankings.
“Firstly we’re extremely grateful to be able to represent Australia on the world stage in the current environment and that’s something that’s not lost on this group,” Rennie said.
“We’ve been building as a squad over the past 18 months or so and to get a chance to head to the northern hemisphere and test ourselves against four really strong international sides is a great opportunity to learn more about ourselves.”
Skelton expressed his desire for a Test recall last month.
“Obviously, not being eligible is tough, not being able to put your hand up to play,” Skelton told AFP.
“If the opportunity does come along I’ll definitely put my hand up.
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“You can see how well they’re playing at the moment, and you miss that environment, the international field.
“You almost ask yourself if you’ve still got it and good enough.
“You want to test yourself against the best. It would be awesome to link up. If it happens, it happens.”
Wallabies Spring Tour squad (Test caps, club side and age)
Allan Alaalatoa (50, Brumbies, 27) Rory Arnold (26, Stade Toulousain, 31) Angus Bell (12, NSW Waratahs, 21) Quade Cooper (74, Kintetsu Liners, 33) Filipo Daugunu (6, Queensland Reds, 26) Pone Fa’amausili* (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 24) Folau Fainga’a (21, Brumbies, 26) Lalakai Foketi* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 26) Jake Gordon (10, NSW Waratahs, 28) Reece Hodge (53, Melbourne Rebels, 27) Michael Hooper (c) (115, NSW Waratahs, 29) Len Ikitau (9, Brumbies, 23) Feleti Kaitu’u (3, Western Force, 26) Andrew Kellaway (9, Melbourne Rebels, 25) Samu Kerevi (38, Suntory Sungoliath, 28) Marika Koroibete (42, Melbourne Rebels, 29) Tolu Latu (19, Stade Francais, 28) Rob Leota (2, Melbourne Rebels, 24) Tate McDermott (11, Queensland Reds, 23) Connal McInerney* (uncapped, Brumbies, 26) Sean McMahon (27, Suntory Sungoliath, 27) James O’Connor (57, Queensland Reds, 31) Hunter Paisami (11, Queensland Reds, 23) Izaia Perese* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 24) Jordan Petaia (14, Queensland Reds, 21) Matt Philip (19, Melbourne Rebels, 27) Tom Robertson (26, Western Force, 26) Izack Rodda (30, Western Force, 24) Pete Samu (15, Brumbies, 29) Will Skelton (18, Stade Rochelais, 29) James Slipper (110, Brumbies, 32) Darcy Swain (9, Brumbies, 24) Lachlan Swinton (6, NSW Waratahs, 24) Taniela Tupou (35, Queensland Reds, 25) Rob Valetini (14, Brumbies, 23) Nic White (43, Brumbies, 31) Tom Wright (5, Brumbies, 24) *denotes uncapped
Wallabies 2021 Spring Tour fixtures (all times AEST)
Japan, Saturday October 23 at 3.45pm
Scotland, Monday November 8 at 1.15am
England, Sunday November 14 at 4.30am
Wales, Sunday November 21 at 4.30am
Squad snapshot • 939 total Test caps • 4 uncapped players, 8 with under 10 Test caps • Average age of 26 (youngest – Angus Bell at 21, while Quade Cooper is the oldest at 33, who has 74 Test caps) • Average of 25 Test caps amongst the squad of 37 players • Clubs represented: 10 Brumbies, 6 Reds, 6 Waratahs, 6 Rebels, 3 Western Force, 6 overseas based