Coach Dave Rennie wants to see a “dark side” from his Wallabies after including 11 uncapped players in his 38-man squad to take on France next month.
Michael Hooper has returned from Japan to captain the side, with the first Test to be played in Sydney on July 7, followed by Melbourne and Brisbane – the entire series to be completed in 11 days.
The biggest change has come at hooker, with only Queensland’s Brandon Paenga-Amosa remaining from last year’s Rugby Championship.
One of the new faces is Brumbies rake Lachie Lonergan, while his halfback brother Ryan was also called in late to cover for injured Waratah Jake Gordon.
— Wallabies (@wallabies) June 13, 2021
Force hooker Feleti Kaitu’u gets his first chance while 34-year-old lock Sitaleki Timani returns with his last Test match in 2013.
Melbourne lock Matt Philip, who has been playing in France, has also been included, along with young, uncapped Brumbies second-rower Darcy Swain.
Powerful NSW centre Izaia Perese was named however he’s likely to be ruled out with a shoulder injury suffered against the Chiefs on Saturday night.
His firebrand teammate, flanker Lachie Swinton, could also miss the series after receiving a red card in the match.
Melbourne’s utility back Reece Hodge has overcome a knee injury to take his place.
— Wallabies (@wallabies) June 13, 2021
The Brumbies have the most representatives with 12, with nine each from Queensland and Melbourne, and six NSW Waratahs despite their winless year.
The uncapped players are Lonerga, Kaitu’u, Perese, Swain, Pone Fa’amausili, Lalakai Foketi, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Rob Leota, Andy Muirhead and Michael Wells.
Rennie said the Australian players were exposed defensively in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition, only winning two games from 25.
He wants to see more aggression and physicality from the Wallabies against the French.
“Between all of our sides we’ve leaked an enormous amount of tries and so getting a real identity around our defensive purpose is going to be important,” Rennie said.
“We’re going to work really hard on the skill-sets around that but we also want to show a bit of a dark side and certainly defensively we need to make some shifts from Super Rugby and I’m looking forward to ripping into that.
“We’ve got good men in our group who when they cross the chalk, we want them to become a different creature – aggressive and competitive – which I think is a big part of defending and it needs to be a big part of our DNA.”
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Rennie said some players broke into the squad in the final round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
Rebels winger Kellaway only arrived back in Australia from Japan a month ago, but did enough to catch the eye of Rennie, chasing and bringing down All Black Will Jordan in the Crusaders game on Saturday.
“We were looking for someone who could give us some versatility and he (Kellaway) played 13 and played really well,” Rennie said.
“He defended excellently, he’s got genuine gas, he’s got a kicking game – he fronted when it mattered and ended up getting the nod.”
Rennie said wouldn’t pick an A and B team for the Tests, with some players set to play in all three games.
“We’re going to spend the next week making sure we’re well conditioned and get all of our detail done,” he said.
“We start at six in the morning and go through to six at night; there’s an enormous amount of learning and we will get a fair bit of work into them.”
WALLABIES SQUAD FOR FRANCE TEST SERIES
Wallabies: Allan Alaalatoa, Tom Banks, Angus Bell, Filipo Daugunu, Pone Fa’amausili, Lalakai Foketi, Jake Gordon, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper (c), Len Ikitau, Feleti Kaitu’u, Andrew Kellaway, Marika Koroibete, Rob Leota, Noah Lolesio, Lachlan Lonergan, Tate McDermott, Fraser McReight, Andy Muirhead, Isi Naisarani, James O’Connor, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Hunter Paisami, Izaia Perese, Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Darcy Swain, Lachie Swinton, Sitaleki Timani, Matt To’omua, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Michael Wells, Nic White, Harry Wilson, Tom Wright.