Rugby Championship

Ashley-Cooper, Genia return

2014-09-17 07:31
Adam Ashley-Cooper (Getty Images)

Sydney - Adam Ashley-Cooper has recovered from injury and Will Genia and Benn Robinson were recalled Wednesday to the Wallabies squad for their Rugby Championship tour of South Africa and Argentina.

But giant lock Will Skelton was axed from the 28-man line-up, which will play Tests against the Springboks on September 27 in Cape Town and the Pumas in Mendoza on October 4.

Outside-back and vice-captain Ashley-Cooper has made sufficient progress from a nerve compression injury and returns for his 98th Test after missing Australia's 32-25 victory over Argentina on the Gold Coast at the weekend.

Coach Ewen McKenzie, who selected 16 forwards and 12 backs for the tour, also named stalwart prop Robinson in his top squad for the first time this season as well as experienced scrum-half Genia.

But more than a dozen players were not considered due to injury, including Stephen Moore (knee), Tatafu Polota-Nau (ankle), Wycliff Palu (head), and Quade Cooper (shoulder).

"It's pleasing to be able to bring in some experienced guys for what will be an extremely challenging tour of South Africa and Argentina," he said.

"We took a conservative approach with Adam's injury in our most recent Test against Argentina, and we're confident the additional week off will serve him well going into the next stage of our campaign.

"Collectively, we add almost 250 games of Test experience to our squad through the inclusion of Adam, Will, Benn and Saia (Fainga'a)," he added.

Skelton was overlooked with former captain James Horwill preferred instead and McKenzie opting to take a bare minimum of three second-rowers, also including starting pair Rob Simmons and Sam Carter.

With hooker Polota-Nau among the long list of injured, Josh Mann-Rea will be on the plane to compete with Fainga'a for a bench spot behind first-choice James Hanson.

McKenzie said the squad was looking forward to the challenges ahead.

"While pleased to have finished ahead on the scoreboard over the past two weeks, we understand there is still a lot of improvement left in this group," he said.

"We'll be working hard to ensure we see that over the next fortnight.

"The Springboks and Argentina always lift to another level when they are playing at home and so we are under no illusions as to the challenges which are ahead."

Forwards: Ben Alexander, Pek Cowan, Sekope Kepu, Benn Robinson, James Slipper, Saia Fainga'a, James Hanson, Josh Mann-Rea, Sam Carter, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Scott Fardy, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Michael Hooper (captain), Ben McCalman

Backs: Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Nic White, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, Matt Toomua, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Joe Tomane.


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