Competition to heat up at Wallabies camp
ESPN Staff
July 4, 2015
Drew Mitchell happy to be back

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has saved himself the trouble of making the hard calls; instead, he'll get his players to do the job for him.

There were a few surprises when Cheika named his 40-man squad on Thursday for the opening two games of the Rugby Championship, with the first Test against South Africa on July 18 in Brisbane. But high-profile omissions such as James O'Connor, Karmichael Hunt, Nick Cummins and veteran props Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander find themselves on the outer simply because there are more in-form players ahead of them in the Australian pecking order.

Those who have made it will assemble on Sunday for a week-long training camp on the Sunshine Coast, where the players will have to sort out among themselves who takes the field against the Springboks.

"There's three sets of props, three sets of locks and we're going to go hard at it in the set-piece when we're up there," Cheika said of the camp.

Queensland's Greg Holmes during the Wallabies squad announcement, Brisbane, July 2, 2015
Greg Holmes © Getty Images

"We're going to see who comes out the best and that competition will get us in the right frame of mind for what we're going to come up against South Africa, which is going to be a big, nasty pack.

"That's rugby, isn't it?

"It's about competitive nature and getting stuck into it, competing with your mates and then - once that decision's been made - joining together to take on the opposition."

Cheika will rifle through as many combinations as possible over coming weeks as he attempts to solve Australia's Rugby World Cup selection puzzle.

He has shown faith in Queensland players despite the Reds' awful Super Rugby campaign, picking of their players - including front-rowers James Slipper; James Hanson and Greg Holmes, who returns to the Wallabies after an eight-year absence.

France-based pair Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell were included as expected, as the first two beneficiaries of the Australian Rugby Union's new eligibility rules for overseas players.

They spoiled the announcement somewhat on Thursday, by tweeting a photo of themselves enjoying a glass of champagne together on the flight over.

"Obviously, we're pretty excited," Mitchell said. "I probably gave it away a little bit, but I've read a fair bit ... and I guess there was probably a fair indication in the media anyway.It was a nice little French bubble to celebrate things and back to business."

Queensland's Samu Kerevi during the Wallabies' squad announcement, Brisbane, Australia, on July 2, 2015
Samu Kerevi © Getty Images

Uncapped quartet Toby Smith, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Rory Arnold and Samu Kerevi are all in line to make their Wallabies debut, having been the standouts of the preliminary train-on squad that has been together in Brisbane for the past two weeks.

Kerevi, who made his Super Rugby debut last year before blossoming in 2015, is the bolter after producing a strong Super Rugby season. The powerful 21-year-old, a 104kg inside centre, gives the Wallabies added flexibility should Cheika wish to go with a running option at inside centre instead of another playmaker.

"It's obviously a different environment for him ... some players have that ability of going up as they go through the levels, and he seems he's got that," Cheika said.

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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