Cheika pays up on praise of Queensland scrum
July 3, 2015
Drew Mitchell happy to be back

Michael Cheika has found a positive in Queensland Reds' horrendous Super Rugby campaign, selecting their entire front-row in his 40-man squad for the opening two Rugby Championship Tests.

Reds captain James Slipper, fellow prop Greg Holmes and hooker James Hanson - who has signed for Melbourne Rebels in 2016 - are among the big winners from Cheika's front-row shake-up, which saw veteran bookends Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander dumped in a bid to regenerate the Australian scrum.

Uncapped Toby Smith (Rebels), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) and Tetera Faulkner (Force) were the other props named, while Stephen Moore (Brumbies) and Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs) make up the hooking contingent.

Queensland's Greg Holmes during the Wallabies squad announcement, Brisbane, July 2, 2015
Greg Holmes has not played a Test since 2007 © Getty Images

Cheika has spoken repeatedly of his desire for Australia to draw upon Queensland's excellent scrummaging efforts this season, having admired them from afar while steering the Waratahs. In doing so, he has ended an eight-year Wallabies exile for Holmes, who receives his first call-up since playing against Canada in 2007.

Holmes, 32, is in career-best form and said the chance to add to his 13 caps was " always in the back of your mind".

"I'm getting a little bit older now and, as the years roll on, young guys are always going to come through," Holmes said. "Personally I had a pretty good year. The scrum went quite well and this is one of the rewards. To get selected in this is something I've been trying to do for a number of years now so I'm pretty happy about it."

Holmes said he liked the look of the front-row stocks selected by Cheika but it was "hard to say" how Australia would fare against in the Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup.

"You never really know until you come up against those guys," he said. "[But if you] just compare it to the Super Rugby standard - the Australian scrum's been going pretty well against the Africans and Kiwis.

"I think we'll go quite well."

Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Wallabies), Kurtley Beale (Waratahs), Quade Cooper (Reds), Israel Folau (Waratahs), Bernard Foley (Waratahs), Will Genia (Reds), Matt Giteau (Toulon, France), Rob Horne (Waratahs), Samu Kerevi (Reds), Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies), Christian Leali'ifano (Brumbies), Drew Mitchell (Toulon, France), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs), Nick Phipps (Waratahs), Henry Speight (Brumbies), Matt Toomua (Brumbies), Joe Tomane (Brumbies), Nic White (Brumbies)

Forwards: Rory Arnold (Brumbies), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), James Hanson (Reds), Scott Fardy (Brumbies), Tetera Faulkner (Force), Scott Higginbotham (Rebels), Greg Holmes (Reds), Michael Hooper (Waratahs), James Horwill (Reds), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Ben McCalman (Force), Dean Mumm (Waratahs), David Pocock (Brumbies), Wycliff Palu (Waratahs), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Rob Simmons (Reds), Will Skelton (Waratahs), James Slipper (Reds), Toby Smith (Rebels)


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