Australian Rugby
Polota-Nau returns to the Wallabies squad
ESPN Staff
October 11, 2013
Australia hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, Wallabies training session, Stade de France, Paris, November 9, 2012
Tatafu Polota Nau will make his return to the Wallabies squad for the November Tour © Getty Images

The Wallabies have finalised a 32-man squad for their five-game November Tour and next week's final Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

Tatafu Polota-Nau has been named in the squad for his return to Test rugby after a broken hand and hamstring injury have kept him sidelined since the British & Irish Lions tour.

The squad consists of 26 of the 28 players that recently toured South Africa and Argentina as part of the Rugby Championship, with front-rower Albert Anae and winger Peter Betham omitted to make way for Polota-Nau and Nick Cummins.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said the squad has a good balance of experience and youth to deal with the six Tests to be played over seven weeks in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy.

"We recognise we are going over to play some very experienced and talented teams in the UK following our Test against the All Blacks," McKenzie said. "As a result, we've selected a group that contains a strong mix of veterans but also 10 players, almost a third of the squad, who have only made their Test debuts this season."

Polota-Nau and Cummins will continue to rehabilitate their injuries during the upcoming fortnight before being fit and available for selection through the November Tour. McKenzie said he expected the experience of Polota-Nau, a veteran of 44 Tests, to benefit the squad throughout the tour.

"Tatafu hasn't had much of an opportunity due to injury over the past six months but we're picking him on reputation. He is also an experienced scrummager, which will be valuable in the UK," he said. "We'll have a good look at him next week and see where he is up to, but he was enthusiastic when I spoke with him. He'll need all of his experience to push his way back into contention although having a guy with his background will strengthen the group."

Backrower Scott Fardy will also miss the upcoming Test against the All Blacks with an eye injury he sustained in Australia's 54-17 victory against Argentina before returning to action at the beginning of the November Tour. Also added to the group are three position specialists in tighthead prop Paddy Ryan, openside flanker Liam Gill and scrumhalf Nick Phipps, along with goal-kicking ace Mike Harris.

"The reality is that the players who started their Test careers this year are only just beginning to accrue experience, so the challenges associated with a tour will be massive for them in terms of their overall development. Of the additions, they've all been around the Wallabies before at some level.

"Most are also specialists in their position, which is important due to the nature of the tour, where we are on the other side of the world for five weeks."

All 32 players will assemble in Sydney on Sunday before a narrowed down playing group of 24 is selected to travel to New Zealand next Wednesday ahead of the Wallabies third Bledisloe Test of 2013 against the All Blacks in Dunedin.

The entire 32-man squad will then re-assemble in Sydney the following week before flying to the United Kingdom on Friday 25 October for their Grand Slam Tour and matches against England, Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

"The decision to choose 32 players now just made sense. We've only got a week's lead-in once we fly to England on the other side of the world, so anything we can do now to expedite the training process is important," McKenzie said.

"Everyone will come together to prepare for the All Blacks, but it's also a chance for the extra guys to come in and get a handle on what we are doing. They were all with us at the start of our campaign, so we expect they will be able to catch-up quite quickly. We'll get a head start now on the knowledge part, so that when we get on the plane to the UK we are already tuned-up."

Kurtley Beale, David Pocock, Jesse Mogg, Scott Higginbotham and Anthony Fainga'a were unavailable for the series due to injury.

Wallabies: Ben Alexander (ACT), Sekope Kepu (NSW), Benn Robinson (NSW), Paddy Ryan (NSW), James Slipper (QLD), Saia Fainga'a (QLD), Stephen Moore (ACT), Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW),Kane Douglas (NSW), James Horwill (capt)(QLD), Rob Simmons (QLD), Sitaleki Timani (NSW), Dave Dennis (NSW), Scott Fardy (ACT), Liam Gill (QLD), Michael Hooper (NSW), Ben McCalman (WA), Ben Mowen (ACT), Will Genia (QLD), Nick Phipps (VIC), Nic White (ACT), Quade Cooper (QLD), Matt Toomua (ACT), Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW), Mike Harris (QLD), Tevita Kuridrani (ACT), Christian Leali'ifano (ACT), Nick Cummins (WA), Chris Feauai-Sautia (QLD), Joe Tomane (ACT), Israel Folau (NSW), Bernard Foley (NSW)

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