Australia A squad announced for Pacific challenge
Scrum.com
June 2, 2008

Australian Rugby Union today announced a 26-man Australia A squad for the upcoming iRB Pacific Nations Cup.

The tournament provides Australia A with high-quality international matches against Japan, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and NZ Maori in a round-robin format over five weeks during June and July.

The squad has seven players with Wallabies experience - Alister Campbell, Mark Gerrard, Sean Hardman, Guy Shepherdson, Sam Norton-Knight, Tai McIsaac and Morgan Turinui.

Several of the game's rising stars have also won selection, including Queensland Reds tyro Ben Lucas and Investec Super 14 Rookie of the Series, centre Tyrone Smith.

Smith and his Brumbies team-mate, backrower Mitchell Chapman, along with Queensland centre Turinui, will join the Australia A squad following their commitments with a star-studded Barbarians touring team in Europe.

The bolter in the Australia A squad is loosehead prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa, who has been rewarded for an outstanding season with Sydney University in Sydney's Shute Shield club competition.

The selection of Yanuyanutawa marks an amazing year for the nephew of Fijian Rugby legend Waisale Serevi, who was plucked from third grade to play for the Students in the Shute Shield Grand final against Easts in July 2007.

The Brumbies will provide the bulk of the Australia A squad with 11 players.

There are six from the Queensland Reds, four each from the NSW Waratahs and Western Force, and Yanuyanutawa from Sydney University.

Newly appointed Australia A coach Phil Mooney said the PNC tournament will provide a competitive testing ground for both the seasoned internationals and the rookies in the squad.

"It is an exciting squad with a blend of seasoned Test players and some outstanding young players," said Mooney.

"This is a great tournament which enables players to compete at a high level of Rugby on a consistent basis post Super 14.

"It also complements the Wallabies season and allows Robbie Deans to see a large pool of players in a competitive environment.

"There is no such thing as an easy match in international Rugby and part of the Australia A program is for the Wallabies coaching staff to see which players can adapt and respond at a higher level."

Australia A begin their campaign in Fukuoka against Japan on Sunday, 8 June, before travelling to Apia to play Samoa the following Saturday.

The squad then returns to Australia and will play Tonga at North Sydney Oval on Sunday, 22 June.

International rugby returns to Ballymore with Australia A to face World Cup quarter-finalists Fiji at the home of Queensland Rugby.

Australia A concludes its iRB Pacific Nations Cup campaign against NZ Maori, who have replaced the Junior all Blacks in the competition, at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday, 6 July.

AUSTRALIA A SQUAD FOR THE 2008 IRB PACIFIC NATIONS CUP

Forwards: Al Campbell (Brumbies), Mitchell Chapman (Brumbies), Pek Cowan (Western Force), Sean Hardman (QLD), Matt Hodgson (Western Force), Leroy Houston (QLD), Van Humphries (QLD), Peter Kimlin (Brumbies), Poutasi Luafutu (QLD), Tai McIsaac (Western Force), Salesi Ma'afu (Brumbies), Julian Salvi (Brumbies), Guy Shepherdson (Brumbies), Jerry Yanuyanutawa (Sydney University).

Backs: Matt Carraro (NSW), Scott Daruda (Western Force), Francis Fainifo (Brumbies), Mark Gerrard (Brumbies). Daniel Halangahu (NSW), Josh Holmes (Brumbies), Ben Lucas (QLD), Sam Norton-Knight (NSW), Patrick Phibbs (Brumbies), Tyrone Smith (Brumbies), Timana Tahu (NSW), Morgan Turinui (QLD).

2008 IRB PACIFIC NATIONS CUP - AUSTRALIA A SCHEDULE
June 8 v Japan in Fukuoka, Japan
June 14 v Samoa in Apia, Samoa
June 22 v Tonga at North Sydney Oval, Sydney
June 29 v Fiji at Ballymore, Brisbane
July 6 v NZ Maori at Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney

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