Rugby-Championship

Lealiifano named in Wallabies Rugby Championship squad

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Brumbies veteran Christian Lealiifano has been named in the Wallabies first squad of 2019 currently preparing for the Rugby championship and Test against South Africa in Johannesburg on July 20.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika and the Australian Test selectors have confirmed a 34-man squad for the opening test match.

Lealiifano returns to the Test arena for the first time since June 2016 and will be aiming to add to his 19 Wallabies caps against the Springboks at Emirates Airlines Park.

The 31-year old joins three potential debutants in the squad with boom number 8 Isi Naisarani as well as rookie backrowers Liam Wright and Rob Valetini looking to earn their first Test cap.

The Brumbies have been rewarded for their Vodafone Super Rugby form with 10 players in the squad, including James Slipper who also returns to the International stage after a two-year hiatus.

Replacements Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said: “We tried to look at Super Rugby form and what they can bring. We’ve done a lot of preparation in the last few years, exposing young players to senior footy and now we want to see those players in the Test environment wherever possible.

“It was tough, really tough. It was the first time we’ve worked as a selection panel with different voices and different opinions challenging each other but I think we’ve come to a better outcome than if I was just picking it myself.

“I’m not the expert to speak on what Christian has been through, only he knows that and his family. What you can’t deny is his form in Super Rugby at the end of the day. If you take out all the other things that he’s achieved, he’s been playing good in Super Rugby and deserves to be there.

“Nic White has earned his chance, his form in the UK has been outstanding and that’s why we pushed hard to get him back. He’s finding his voice inside the team and now we have some really good options at halfback in this team,” Cheika said.

The Wallabies will travel to Johannesburg on Sunday for a week-long training camp on South Africa’s Highveld to prepare for the high altitude conditions.

Following the South Africa clash, the side will travel to Brisbane for its first home Test of 2019 against a resurgent Argentina at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 27 July.

Wallabies squad for Rugby Championship Test against South Africa (Test caps, Super Rugby team and age)

Forwards
Allan Alaalatoa (32 Tests, Brumbies, 25)
Rory Arnold (19 Tests , Brumbies, 29)
Jack Dempsey (10 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 25)
Folau Fainga’a (7 Tests, Brumbies, 24)
Michael Hooper (c) (91 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 27)
Luke Jones (3 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 28)
Sekope Kepu (103 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 33)
Tolu Latu (12 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 26)
Isi Naisarani (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 24)
Tom Robertson (24 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 24)
Izack Rodda (17 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)
Rob Simmons (94 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 30)
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (11, Queensland Reds, 22)
Scott Sio (55 Tests, Brumbies, 27)
James Slipper (86 Tests, Brumbies, 30)
Taniela Tupou (11 Tests, Queensland Reds, 23)
Jordan Uelese (2 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 22)
Rob Valetini (uncapped, Brumbies, 20)
Liam Wright (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 21)

Backs
Adam Ashley-Cooper (117 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 35)
Tom Banks (3 Tests, Brumbies, 25)
Kurtley Beale (83 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 30)
Bernard Foley (68 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)
Will Genia (100 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 31)
Dane Haylett-Petty (31 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 30)
Reece Hodge (33 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 24)
Samu Kerevi (25 Tests, Queensland Reds, 25)
Marika Koroibete (20 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)
Tevita Kuridrani (58 Tests, Brumbies, 28)
Christian Lealiifano (19 Tests, Brumbies, 31)
Jack Maddocks (7 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 22)
Joe Powell (4 Tests, Brumbies, 25)
Matt Toomua (42 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 29)
Nic White (22 Tests, Exeter Chiefs, 29)

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