Mitchell cut as Deans names Tri-Nations squad
July 8, 2010
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans fields questions at ARU Headquarters following his latest squad announcement © Getty Images
Winger Drew Mitchell is the most notable omission from Australia's squad for the forthcoming Tri-Nations series as Robbie Deans cut five players from the group involved in recent tests against England and Ireland.
Mitchell has been joined on the outer by fellow Waratahs wing Lachie Turner, scrum-half Josh Valentine, props Pek Cowan and Laurie Weeks and hooker Huia Edmonds.
They have been replaced by Reds forwards James Slipper, Scott Higginbotham and lock Rob Simmons, inside centre Anthony Faingaa and Western Force flanker Ben McCalman. Experienced front rowers Stephen Moore and Benn Robinson also return to the Australia squad.
Deans said: "Having Stephen and Benn back on board is significant, both in terms of the expertise they bring in their respective positions, but also the knowledge and skill they will add to the whole group. The Tri-Nations is the toughest rugby in the world, and their knowledge of the tournament from past experience will be of benefit to the whole group."
Deans named 28 players on Thursday, with the final two spots on the playing roster to be decided soon.
He said: "We still have some decisions to make, and would like to see a little bit more club rugby before settling on the final two positions. Given the difficulties that we have experienced this year, in terms of injuries, we feel it is prudent to allow ourselves a little bit more time in this instance to cover off any other requirements we feel that we will need."
Injury has played a part in the selection with prop Ben Alexander (knee) and number eight Stephen Hoiles (Achilles) unavailable. Hooker Tatafu Polota Nau is not considered as he awaits an operation on his ankle later this month which will enable him to return in time for Australia's Spring tour.
Slipper made his debut against England in Perth last month, and featured off the bench in three of the four June Tests after being promoted from the Australian Barbarians squad when Alexander was injured. Faingaa and McCalman both impressed as part of the Barbarians squad during the two-match midweek series against England last month.
Simmons also featured in that series, returning from a month off due to a facial fracture in the second game, while Higginbotham was unavailable for the June squad due to a foot injury sustained while playing for the Reds. Deans said Higginbotham had always figured in the Wallabies plans, and was in a not too dissimilar situation to that which surrounded scrum-half Will Genia last season.
Australia open their Tri-Nations campaign in Brisbane on July 24 against South Africa at Suncorp Stadium, followed by matches against New Zealand in Melbourne and Christchurch.
Australia Tri-Nations squad: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Richard Brown, Luke Burgess, Mark Chisholm, Quade Cooper, Ben Daley, Rocky Elsom (captain), Anthony Faingaa, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia, Matt Giteau, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Rob Horne, Peter Hynes, Digby Ioane, Ben McCalman, Salesi Ma'afu, Stephen Moore, Dean Mumm, James O'Connor, David Pocock, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, James Slipper.