Test luck fails prop

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - IAIN PAYTEN

THE World Cup agony of prop Benn Robin­son looks set for another in­stal­ment af­ter the 72- Test prop was omit­ted from the Wal­la­bies’ 40- man squad for the Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

Robin­son and fel­low Wal­la­bies front- row stal­wart Ben Alexan­der – the two most capped props in Aus­tralian Test history – were the big­gest ca­su­al­ties in a squad that also car­ries huge ram­i­fi­ca­tions for World Cup se­lec­tions.

With the fi­nal 31- man World Cup squad to be picked in late Au­gust, se­lec­tion for the Rugby Cham­pi­onship is al­most a pre­req­ui­site to make the tour­na­ment in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber in the UK.

James O’Con­nor, Nick Cum­mins, Matt Hodg­son and Luke Jones were also ab­sent from a squad that saw coach Michael Cheika turn away dras­ti­cally from many of the reg­u­lar faces in Wal­laby gold in re­cent sea­sons.

The first Test of the sea­son is against South Africa on July 18 in Bris­bane. The Wal­la­bies will as­sem­ble on Sun­day for a week- long train­ing camp on the Sun­shine Coast.

“There’s three sets of props, three sets of locks and we’re go­ing to go hard at it in the set piece when we’re up there,” Cheika said.

“We’re go­ing to see who comes out the best and that com­pe­ti­tion will get us in the right frame of mind for what we’re go­ing to come up against ( ver­sus) South Africa, which is go­ing to be a big, nasty pack.”

Four un­capped new­com­ers – Rory Arnold, Samu Kerevi, Taqele Naiyavaroro and Rebels prop Toby Smith – led the charge.

There are old faces in­cluded, with Dean Mumm re­called af­ter just a few weeks back in Aus­tralia and Greg Holmes picked af­ter play­ing his last Test in 2007.

As ex­pected, Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau were also in­cluded af­ter re­turn­ing from France.

They spoiled the an­nounce­ment some­what yesterday, by tweet­ing a photo of them­selves en­joy­ing a glass of cham­pagne to­gether on the flight over.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’re pretty ex­cited,” Mitchell said.

“I prob­a­bly gave it away a lit­tle bit, but I’ve read a fair bit ... and I guess there was prob­a­bly a fair in­di­ca­tion in the media any­way.”

The front row shake- up – with Smith, Scott Sio, Tetera Faulkner, Sekope Kepu and Holmes named – could see Robin­son miss out on his third World Cup. Cut late in 2007, Robin­son then in­jured a knee be­fore the 2011 Cup.


CHAM­PAGNE JOY: Drew Mitchell and Taqele Nai­yar­a­voro celebrate Wal­la­bies se­lec­tion at ANZ Sta­dium yesterday.

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