Rugby Championship
NSW Barbarians to play Pumas
ESPN Staff
July 18, 2013
The Waratahs' David Dennis talks to team-mates during the match against Melbourne Rebels, New South Wales Waratahs v Melbourne Rebels, Allianz Stadium, Stadium, March 1, 2013
Dave Dennis will lead the NSW Barbarians to Argentina © Getty Images

Michael Cheika is sending a NSW Barbarians squad to South America to take on the Pumas in a two-match series as part of Argentina's preparations for The Rugby Championship. The 34-man squad will play the Pumas in Buenos Aires on August 3 and in Salta on August 9 before returning home to Sydney on August 11.

The squad, invited by the Argentinian Rugby Union to assist the Pumas' preparation for The Rugby Championship, which kicks off on August 17, will consist of New South Wales Waratahs players and invited players from the Sydney Shute Shield competition.

"We are playing against the main Pumas squad and this will be their first preparation games leading into The Rugby Championship," Cheika said. "The majority of the Waratahs players were involved in the Lions match and if we can get two more fixtures against international opposition, they will have played three matches against Test opposition. For the guys who haven't played Test rugby before, the experience of playing international rugby in front of a big crowd, especially away from home, is too good to miss out on."

Cheika praised the support he had received from the Sydney club coaches as the tour clashes with rounds 16 and 17 of the Shute Shield on August 3 and 10. "The club coaches have all been in to meet me, and have been really positive about putting their players forward to participate in a tour against such a quality opposition, even though the Shute Shield is going on, which is a really good sign of the co-operation between the Waratahs and our clubs.

"The players have been selected from watching Shute Shield matches and quizzing club coaches about their own players and opposition players they have across."

Cheika said the tour represented an opportunity for some of the state's best club players to press their claims for a Super Rugby contract next season, with five places in his 2014 squad on the line, but players not on the tour would still be considered. "Some players have been left behind to ensure that there is a balance for the Shute Shield games taking place," he said. "For someone like Kerren Straker from Penrith, this is a great opportunity to play for a professional contract and, in an area where we want rugby to grow, it proves to everyone out there that there is an opportunity to go further."

New South Wales Barbarians squad

Waratahs players: Peter Betham (Sydney University), Berrick Barnes (Sydney University), Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs), Cam Crawford (Northern Suburbs), Dave Dennis (Sydney University), Bernard Foley (Sydney University), Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University), Rob Horne (Southern Districts), Sekope Kepu (Randwick), Matt Lucas (Manly), Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs), Drew Mitchell (Randwick), Tatafu Polota Nau (Parramatta), Paddy Ryan (Sydney University), Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University), Sitaleki Timani ( Southern Districts), Jed Holloway (Southern Districts), Luke Holmes (Warringah), Ben Volavola (Southern Districts), Will Skelton (Sydney University), Tala Grey (Eastern Suburbs, 2014 squad member).

Invited Shute Shield club players: Alofa Alofa (West Harbour), Jack Dempsey (Gordon), Auvasa Falealii (Newcastle Waratahs), Alex Gibbon (Southern Districts), Terrence Hepetema (Randwick), David Horwitz (Randwick), Tolu Latu (Sydney University), David Lolohea (West Harbour), Usaia O'Sullivan (West Harbour), Kerren Straker (Penrith), Sam Talakai (Sydney University), Keliti Vangalo (Eastern Suburbs), Liam Winton (Sydney University).

© ESPN Australia / New South Wales

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