Classic Wallaby calls add buzz to Cheika's unveiling
Sam Bruce
August 21, 2015
Giteau 'humbled' by Cup selection

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has again demonstrated his imaginative off-field thinking in making the Rugby World Cup squad announcement extra special for the 31 players involved.

Cheika on Friday unveiled his squad on the stairs of a Qantas jet, the players filing down one by one as they were introduced in front of a large media contingent. There were the obligatory hard-luck stories with former skipper James Horwill and Bledisloe I saviour Nic White missing the cut; but the feeling amongst the 31 players was otherwise one of clear joy with many saying they were still "buzzing" from the unique way in which they were informed of their selection.

The 31 Wallabies selected for the two-week stopover in the United States and World Cup in England each received an individual phone call from a Wallabies great; a strategy Cheika had concocted to help mark the significance of the journey ahead.

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"Well, everyone's been talking about it upstairs, yeah just who called who and who called you; and all this type of things; I think it was a fantastic touch," Wallabies captain Stephen Moore said. "John (Eales) called me probably around 7.30 last night; I had his number in my phone so I knew it was him; so at least I knew that much. But when I answered the phone he said: 'mate, congratulations on your selection in the squad and obviously leading the side'. And it's a big honour to hear from someone like that; he's lifted the World Cup twice and that's a pretty special achievement on his part.

"And I think it would mean a lot to him as well to be able to connect to the current group and hopefully I'll catch up with him before I leave. And there's a couple of things I want to run past him about how it all works, a couple of things he did in different areas and I think that's invaluable - that kind of advice."

Veteran Matt Giteau couldn't wipe the smile from his face after he completed one of the great comeback stories of recent times. The 95-Test veteran was left out of Robbie Deans' squad four years ago, a move that at the time looked to have ended his Test career.

The Wallabies 31-man squad was unveiled on the steps of a Qantas jet © Getty Images

But the Australian Rugby Union's change in policy on overseas eligibility saw Giteau return to Australia and reignite his Test career alongside Toulon team-mate Drew Mitchell. The veteran inside back - who will provide cover at scrum-half after Cheika opted for just two specialist half-backs - said the players were keen to discover just who had called who.

"Getting the '99 World Cup members to ring the players to let them know that they'd been picked in the World Cup squad was just a different touch; but it's a nice touch," Giteau told ESPN of Cheika's strategy. "All the boys are still talking about it: (they're saying) 'Who did you get called by? What time did you get called?' And things like that."

Ruck'n Maul: Wallabies tried to be 'too smart'

Meanwhile, Cheika said Horwill's omission had largely come down to a desire for balance among his four locks; a decision that ultimately saw former Waratahs forward Kane Douglas - who only recently became available after securing a release from Leinster - getting the nod ahead of the veteran Queenslander.

"I just looked at the profiles of the four locks we took, that we've chosen for the squad, and I suppose, in a general sense, even though all the players have impact, I've gone for two more lineout-orientated, jumping players, that are a bit more mobile; and then two looking for a bit more impact, work-rate, that type of thing," Cheika said.

"So putting the balance; I was always looking to make complementary combinations whether it's in second-row or back-row, front-row, whatever. I just felt that that four (Douglas, Dean Mumm, Will Skelton and Rob Simmons) and we've also got Scott Fardy who can run lineouts as well, I feel like we had that area (lineout) covered and I just wanted to invest a little bit more in impact of the pack and I still think that there is plenty of upside in Kane Douglas. He's only just come back to fitness and has had a little bit of rugby; I think there is still a big upside to him over the next three to four weeks."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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