Wallaby legends set for final lap
May 20, 2007

Two of Australia's sporting icons are preparing for an emotional farewell to Australian rugby fans as the Wallabies squad for the 2007 international calendar was announced in Sydney today.

George Gregan and Stephen Larkham will play their final matches in Australia this winter en route to a Rugby World Cup swansong in France in September and October.

The scrumbase duo has earned legendary status in rugby after a combined 26 years of International experience along with 222 Test caps.

Gregan, 34, and Larkham, who turns 33 in nine days, are the two most senior members of a 30-man Wallabies squad which features four players uncapped at Test level.

Wallabies Coach John Connolly said that the two departing veterans were deserving of a hero's reception as they make their way through Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth for their final matches across the country.

"There's no doubt that we are seeing the end of two outstanding careers and rugby supporters and sporting fans around the country will rally to pay tribute to two of the game's greatest ever players," said Connolly.

"A series win over Wales and a Tri Nations victory would provide a fitting farewell for George and Stephen as they play their final season in Australia before embarking on the World Cup," he said.

Reds lock James Horwill, Brumbies utility Julian Huxley, Western Force flyer Digby Ioane and Waratahs back Sam Norton-Knight will be out to earn their first Wallaby jerseys during the nine-match 2007 Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series program.

For the first time ever the Qantas Wallabies will have joint captains during the series, with Waratahs captain Phil Waugh and Brumbies skipper Stirling Mortlock named as co-captains of the Wallabies. The announcement comes as Mortlock celebrates his 30th birthday today.

Both Mortlock and Waugh made their captaincy debut for the Wallabies last year, with Mortlock leading the team on four occasions and Waugh running the team out against Wales in Cardiff on the Spring Tour.

The Wallabies will play matches against Wales (2) and Fiji, before renewing their Tri Nations rivalry with New Zealand and South Africa.

The talented and youthful 30-man squad includes 13 players under the age of 25, while 50 per cent of the squad has played 10 or fewer Tests.

Connolly maintained that a successful domestic season was a priority for his team.

"Everything we do between now and September is geared towards our over-arching goal to win the World Cup," said Connolly.

"But first we have a tough domestic season ahead of us and we are very much focused on a successful campaign. The Tri Nations is of vital importance and we are looking to get the edge on Wales ahead of our meeting at the World Cup in September," he said.

Meanwhile, a 25-man Australia A squad was announced for the iRB Pacific Nations Cup, which kicks off on May 26.

Brumbies lock Alister Campbell has been named captain of Australia A, after leading the team on two occasions in 2006.

Australia A will play matches against Tonga, Samoa, Japan, the Junior All Blacks and Fiji and will be coached by Brumbies mentor Laurie Fisher.

30-man Qantas Wallabies squad for the 2007 Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series

(players listed alphabetically)

Adam Ashley-Cooper, Alistair Baxter, Mark Chisholm, Matt Dunning, Rocky Elsom, Adam Freier, Mark Gerrard, Matt Giteau, George Gregan, Stephen Hoiles, James Horwill, Julian Huxley, Digby Ioane, Stephen Larkham, David Lyons, Hugh McMeniman, Drew Mitchell, Stephen Moore, Stirling Mortlock (c), Sam Norton-Knight, Wycliff Palu, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, Cameron Shepherd, Guy Shepherdson, George Smith, Scott Staniforth, Lote Tuqiri, Dan Vickerman, Phil Waugh (c).

25-man Australia A squad for the iRB Pacific Nations Cup

(players listed alphabetically)

Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Rodney Blake, Will Caldwell, Alister Campbell (c), Sam Cordingley, Ryan Cross, Gene Fairbanks, Gareth Hardy, Nic Henderson, Peter Hewat, Josh Holmes, Dean Mumm, Jeremy Paul, Junior Pelesasa, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, David Pusey, Julian Salvi, Haig Sare, Clinton Schifcofske, Troy Takiari, Jone Tawake, Lachie Turner, Adam Wallace-Harrison.

Players excluded from the selection pool due to injury: Mitchell Chapman, Quade Cooper, Greg Holmes, Peter Hynes, Chris Latham, Clyde Rathbone, Morgan Turinui.

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