The losers (so far) were Drew Mitchell, Lachie Turner, Josh Valentine, Pek Cowan, Laurie Weeks and Huia Edmonds who have all been dropped.
Some would say that Mark Chisholm and Richard Brown, who both under performed during the June tests, had the luck of the Irish and retained their spots although I wonder whether that was more about who was actually available to replace them?
Experienced front rowers Stephen Moore and Benn Robinson return to the Australian squad, and not before time. Diggers, Sharpie and Hynsie have also overcome their injury woes and are back – Diggers probably a few weeks later than the others.
Deans named 28 players today, with the final two positions on the playing roster to be decided soon.
Deans said “Given the difficulties that we have experienced this year, in terms of injuries, we feel it is prudent to allow ourselves a little bit more time in this instance to cover off any other requirements we feel that we will need.”
The speculation on who the remaining two players are will be intense. Looking at the mix it appears that they may be outside backs. There are six players chosen to cover essentially four positions (outside centre, wings and fullback) although A. Faingaa can cover the former and Beale/O’Connor are utilities.
Cameron Shepherd has been the most recent object of Robbie Dean’s desire so I expect if he convinces him that his fitness is up to speed in club football he’ll be one of the add-ons. I actually think Shmoo Mitchell will get the other gig – this to me looks like a wake-up call?
Stephen Hoiles (achilles) is the latest injury casualty which opens the door for new blood, although word is that Higgo has been on the radar for some time and would have been in the team anyway.
Higginbotham was unavailable for the June tests and Baa Baas series due to a foot injury. He’ll be back playing club footy for Brisbane Wests this weekend.
Tatafu Polota-Nau was not considered as he awaits an operation on his ankle later this month which will enable him to return in time for Australia’s Spring tour.
Will Slipper has leapfrogged Pek Cowan and Laurie Weeks. He made his debut against England in Perth and featured off the bench in three of the four June Tests, subbing for an injured Ben Alexander. He improved with every outing and is clearly destined for greater things.
As far as Weeks goes, it’s early days for him and he’ll get another opportunity down the track for sure.
A. Faingaa and McCalman have both had impressive Super 14 seasons and thoroughly deserve their promotion. They also featured in the Baa Baas series. The selectors obviously like Finger’s straight running and punishing defence – he’s not of Nonu size but his technique is second to none.
McCalman is a very impressive young man and it doesn’t surprise me that he’s made the jump. Throughout the Super 14 he gave sterling service backing up Matt Hodgson during the Force’s ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and thoroughly deserves his place.
Simmons returned from injury only recently and cameo’d in the last match. In a few short years Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas and Peter Kimlin will potentially be the Wallaby locks leading the charge at the next World Cup.
For those pining for Van Humphries (and I could be counted here) just remember that he’s been injured. 15 of the 28 players actually originate from Queensland.
10 of the squad currently play for the Reds and 6 each for the Waratahs, Brumbies and Force.
Queensland is back….
Tri-Nations Squad: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Richard Brown, Luke Burgess, Mark Chisholm, Quade Cooper, Ben Daley, Rocky Elsom (captain), Anthony Faingaa, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia, Matt Giteau, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Rob Horne, Peter Hynes, Digby Ioane, Ben McCalman, Salesi Ma’afu, Stephen Moore, Dean Mumm, James O’Connor, David Pocock, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, James Slipper.