The international recall of halfback Will Genia and the dumping of lock tyro Will Skelton are the major talking points to come out of the Wallabies squad announcement for the remaining Rugby Championship Tests in South Africa and Argentina.
Both players have had time playing in the NRC competition in recent weeks.
Genia is one of three halfbacks chosen in the 28-man squad (with Nick Phipps and Nic White), while only three locks have been named – Sam Carter, Rob Simmons and James Horwill – at the expense of surprise omission Skelton.
A breakout star of the Super XV season, Skelton’s stocks have plummeted since his blockbusting Test debut earlier this season against France – but the 140kg monster is sure to be in Ewen McKenzie’s long-term plans.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Genia can muscle his way past incumbent Phipps and former starter White for the No.9 role or a bench spot.
In other changes, Tatafu Polota-Nau has again been sidelined by injury, which brings hookers Saia Fainga’a and Josh Mann-Rae back into the fold, although James Hanson is likely to be the first-choice rake.
Benn Robinson and Adam Ashley-Cooper come back into the squad following injury layoffs, while winger Joe Tomane will tour after injury claimed Peter Betham, who manned the right flank against Argentina.
Veteran No.8 Wycliff Palu is still out, and in a curious anomaly, captain Michael Hooper will go away as the youngest member of the Wallabies squad.
Australia takes on South Africa on September 27 at Newlands, and Argentina on October 4 at Estadio Malvinas.
Backs: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Joe Tomane, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali’ifano, Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Nic White, Will Genia.
Forwards: Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper (capt), Matt Hodgson, Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Ben Alexander, James Slipper, Pek Cowan, Benn Robinson, James Hanson, Saia Fainga’a, Josh Mann-Rae.
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