Cheika brings in Ashley-Cooper
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallaby Veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has earned a squad call-up for the first time since 2016, after injuries ruled out key outside backs Reece Hodge (ankle) and Tevita Kuridrani (pectoral) for the Wallabies’ November Tour.
The squad will be in Odawara, Japan for a week-long intensive training camp at the base the Wallabies will use ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Ashley-Cooper won’t have to travel far with the 34-year old currently based in Japan for Kobe Steelers in the Top League, and he’ll be keen to prove to Michael Cheika this week that he’s ready to join George Gregan as the only Australian to play in four Rugby World Cups, if selected next year.
Meanwhile. Rookie sensation Jordan Petaia has been called into Cheika’s train-on squad for the tour after a memorable National Rugby Championship (NRC) campaign for Queensland Country.
The 18-year-old would become the third youngest player to ever debut for the Wallabies, should he make an appearance in the November internationals against either Wales or Italy.
It caps a remarkable rise for Petaia who starred for the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby last season, after only making his debut in round eight against the Brumbies.
Petaia is joined by fellow rising star Rob Valetini, who will join the squad as a Development Player.
Valetini has overcome an injury-interrupted season for the Brumbies to dominate for the Canberra Vikings in the NRC and will earn vital experience in Europe ahead of 2019.
Matt Toomua will also join the squad in Odawara. The train-on squad will be revised before departing for Wales on Saturday for the first Test of the tour.
“Jordan [Petaia] has just got a lot of good touches. He’s a good lad, he wants to succeed, he wants to do the work, he’s eager,” said Cheika.
“Having him here with us on these next few weeks will give him an idea of what’s required at the level and give him a chance to make a play for the World Cup squad.
“Adam [Ashley-Cooper] will train with us, we’ll see where he’s at. He’s come on the tour with us to be available for selection, he’s not coming for a holiday.
“His experience is important and also just his versatility, his ability to cover a few positions. With him and then a guy like Jordan, it’s probably a good balance. We need a couple of extra backs here on the trip,” Cheika said.
Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga’a, Ned Hanigan, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Pete Samu, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou.
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Jake Gordon, Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Sefa Naivalu, Jordan Petaia, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua.
Development Player: Rob Valetini