Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has included 11 NSW Waratahs in his 32-man squad for the upcoming 2014 Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.
Five NSW forwards and six Waratah backs will wear Wallaby gold in The Rugby Championship. Up front are seasoned Wallabies Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota Nau, Michael Hooper and Wycliff Palu, while Will Skelton’s inclusion means the big lock is set to add to his one Test cap earned against the French earlier this year.
In the backs, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale join Rob Horne and Adam Ashley Cooper – both named as wings – plus Israel Folau. The 32-man squad will be captained by Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper and boasts a combined total of 781 Test appearances. Players from all five Super Rugby provinces are included, with NSW and ACT providing the biggest contingent with 11, Queensland Reds and Western Force providing four each and two Melbourne Rebels selected.
The squad, minus those players participating in the Super Rugby Final, will assemble on Sunday 3 August to begin the Qantas Wallabies’ week-long Bush2Bledisloe regional road trip across Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst and Penrith. Members of the Wallabies squad taking part in the Super Rugby Final will join the team in Bathurst on Wednesday 6 August.
Like the Waratahs, the Wallabies are currently enjoying a winning streak of their own with their seven consecutive victories last achieved by an Australian team back in 1999/2000.
In the lead-up to the Bledisloe Cup, the Wallabies will also embark on a five-day road trip through regional NSW to bring passionate NSW rugby supporters closer than ever before to the national team, with a range of community activities planned during each stage of the tour. Fans in Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst and Penrith will get a unique opportunity to meet their Wallaby heroes as part of open training and fan activity sessions, and will also get the chance to see and hold the prestigious Bledisloe Cup.
Australian Rugby Union will also host a B2B dinner in Bathurst, which will be attended by the entire Wallabies squad.
The Qantas Wallabies squad for the 2014 Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship is:
Player (state, age, Test caps)
Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies, 29, 62)
Pek Cowan (Western Force, 28, 7)
Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs, 28, 41)
Scott Sio (ACT Brumbies, 22, 5)
James Slipper (Queensland Reds, 25, 52)
Nathan Charles (Western Force, 25, 2)
James Hanson (Queensland Reds, 25, 1)
Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs, 28, 49)
Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies, 24, 1)
James Horwill (Queensland Reds, 29, 51)
Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds, 25, 40)
Will Skelton (NSW Waratahs, 22, 1)
Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies, 30, 13)
Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels, 27,24)
Matt Hodgson (Western Force, 33, 6)
Michael Hooper (c) (NSW Waratahs, 22, 31)
Ben McCalman (Western Force, 26, 32)
Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs, 31, 51)
Luke Burgess (Melbourne Rebels, 30,37)
Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs, 25, 17)
Nic White (ACT Brumbies, 24, 13)
Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs, 25, 42)
Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs, 24, 7)
Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies, 23, 11)
Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies, 26, 13)
Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies, 24, 13)
Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs, 30, 94)
Henry Speight (ACT Brumbies, 26, Uncapped)
Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs, 25, 18)
Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs, 24, 16)
Pat McCabe (ACT Brumbies, 26, 22)
Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies, 24, 9)
The Wallabies schedule for the 2014 Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship is:
Saturday 16 August v New Zealand (ANZ Stadium, Sydney)
Saturday 23 August v New Zealand (Eden Park, Auckland)
Saturday 6 September v South Africa (Patersons Stadium, Perth)
Saturday 13 September v Argentina (Cbus Stadium, Gold Coast)
Saturday 27 September (Sun 28 Sept. AEST) v South Africa (Newlands Stadium, Cape Town)
Saturday 4 October (Sun 5 Oct. AEST) v Argentina (Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza)