Sydney – Wallabies boss Michael Cheika on Sunday named Test veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau and six uncapped players in his extended squad ahead of the opening Bledisloe Cup clash against the All Blacks.
Polota-Nau was recalled to the squad after being rested for the Test series against Ireland and will be joined by England-based utility back Matt Toomua, who recently confirmed his move to the Melbourne Rebels.
Jordan Petaia, 18, who shone at a Bledisloe Cup trial in Sydney on Friday, was among six rookies included in the 36-man squad who could make their debuts for Australia against New Zealand on August 18.
Tom Banks, Jack Maddocks, Jermaine Ainsley, Billy Meakes and Folau Faingaa were the other uncapped Wallabies selected.
Petaia and Rebels centre Billy Meakes will add cover to the midfield after injuries ruled out Test regulars Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi.
“He understands he’s earned a chance to be with the squad and get a taste of it. The opportunities are limitless, according to how he develops,” Cheika told rugby.com.au of his selection of Petaia.
Captain Michael Hooper, who is continuing his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury he suffered in the final Test against Ireland, was named in the squad and Cheika said he expected him to return for the Rugby Championship opener.
“I’ve been told he’ll be back to full training on Monday so both himself and Allan Alaalatoa were the two players apart from Dane (Haylett-Petty) who haven’t done yet,” he said.
“We’ll have to check Scotty (Scott Sio) as well now, have to see how he pulls up after the game. I’m told he’ll be back training tomorrow.”
Cheika will name a trimmed-down squad later this week after a training camp.
Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Folau Faingaa, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (capt), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Pete Samu, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou
Backs: Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Billy Meakes, Sefa Naivalu, Jordan Petaia, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Curtis Rona, Matt Toomua