Uncapped trio in Oz squad

2011-11-07 07:23

Sydney - A long injury list has led to three uncapped players being named in the Australian rugby squad which will play two matches in Britain in late November and December.

Reds backs Ben Tapuai and Ben Lucas and Waratahs backrower Dave Dennis were named on Monday in the 26-man squad which will play the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 26 and Wales at Cardiff on December 3.

Nine members of Australia's Rugby World Cup squad were unavailable for the tour because of injuries. Kurtley Beale (hamstring), Drew Mitchell (hamstring), Pat McCabe (shoulder), Quade Cooper (knee), Wycliff Palu (hamstring), Rocky Elsom (hamstring), Dan Vickerman (shoulder), Sekope Kepu (eye) and Luke Burgess (French rugby) were not considered.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said the new trio had the chance to make their mark.

"It's a great opportunity for the three of them to take the next step in their careers," he said.

"(Dennis) was probably unlucky in the first instance not to make that World Cup squad, but he gets his opportunity now. Then we've got the two Bens. Ben Tapuai, who earned the right off the back of his Super rugby experience and played very well on the Gold Coast for the Australian Barbarians against Canada.

"Ben Lucas is obviously a very versatile player. There's an opening at No 9, which is where most of Benny's background is and with Luke Burgess going to play his rugby offshore, his versatility will be handy."

Prop Pek Cowan is the only other member of the Australian squad who did not appear at the World Cup, playing the most recent of his four tests off the bench during the 39-20 win over South Africa in Sydney in July.

"While this is a relatively brief visit by current standards, both fixtures promise to be exceedingly demanding," Deans said. "We've just seen at the Rugby World Cup how much and how quickly playing resources can be taxed."

Deans said young utility back James O'Connor would likely take on a playmaking role in the absence of Cooper and Beale.

"When you are looking at the players that we are taking, it's very likely he (O'Connor) will get the opportunity to step up and accept some of the greater responsibility that comes directing the game," Deans said.

Australia squad to play Wales and the Barbarians:

Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Pekahou Cowan, Dave Dennis, Anthony Faingaa, Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Rob Horne, James Horwill (captain), Digby Ioane, Ben Lucas, Salesi Ma'afu, Ben McCalman, Stephen Moore, James O'Connor, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota Nau, Radike Samo, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Ben Tapuai, Lachie Turner.


  • Andrew - 2011-11-07 19:55

    Genia, Barnes, Horne, Faingaa, Ashley-Cooper, Ioane, O'Connor. That is still the 2nd or 3rd most potent backline in world rugby after NZ and Ireland.

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