Rugby Championship News

Vickerman, Latham and Mortlock back for Wallabies’




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The Wallabies were bolstered by the return from injury of first-team players Daniel Vickerman, Chris Latham and Stirling Mortlock for this month’s two rugby Tests in South Africa.

Australian coach Eddie Jones released a 28-man squad for the return Mandela Challenge Plate Test against the Springboks in Johannesburg on July 23 and the Tri-Nations Test in Pretoria on July 30.

Captain George Gregan (ribs), prop Matt Dunning (hamstring) and centre Morgan Turinui (calf), who were all replaced during the Wallabies’ 30-12 win over South Africa in the first Mandela Challenge game here on Saturday, are available for the squad.

Turinui, the NSW Waratahs centre, will stay behind when the team departs on Wednesday to be at the impending birth of his first child and will re-join the squad in Cape Town on Sunday.

South African-born lock Vickerman has not played for the Wallabies this season, while fullback Latham and centre Mortlock had hamstring injuries, which made them unavailable for last Saturday’s international.

Coach Jones said travelling to South Africa earlier than usual would give the team 10 days to maximize their preparations for the next Test at Johannesburg’s high altitude Ellis Park, where the Wallabies have not won for 42 years.

“Sports science suggests the best approach is to fly over 10 days before we have to play our first match,” Jones said in an Australian Rugby Unionstatement Monday.

“This should allow us to get over the time difference and give the players the best opportunity to prepare well both physically and mentally for the next Test.

“The players have worked extremely hard to this point and our next challenge is to win the Mandela Plate in Johannesburg on July 23.”

Australia historically have problems with the Springboks at Ellis Park, 1,750 metres (6,000 feet) above sea level, and have only come away from Johannesburg with one win (11-9 in 1963) in seven visits.

Australia must win the second game to take the Mandela Challenge trophy off South Africa, who won the last time in 2002.

The Wallabies will go into Camp on Tuesday in Sydney with an afternoon training session planned before Wednesday’s departure to South Africa.

Australia – Al Baxter, Mark Chisholm, Matt Dunning, Rocky Elsom, Scott Fava, Mark Gerrard, Matt Giteau, George Gregan (captain), Nic Henderson, Matt Henjak, Stephen Larkham, Chris Latham, David Lyons, Drew Mitchell, Stephen Moore, Stirling Mortlock, Jeremy Paul, John Roe, Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor, Nathan Sharpe, George Smith, Lote Tuqiri, Morgan Turinui, Daniel Vickerman, Phil Waugh, Chris Whitaker, Bill Young.

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