SYDNEY (AP) — Lock Izack Rodda has been recalled and France-based center Duncan Paia’aua has been added to Australia’s 42-man squad for the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.
Rodda quit the Queensland Reds last year to play for Lyon in France before returning to Australia to join the Perth-based Western Force.
Paia’aua, who plays for French club Toulon, has been chosen under the revised “Giteau Law” which allows players with fewer than 60 test caps to be selected while based overseas. The rule change recognizes some players cannot join the current squad in Queensland because of current COVID border restrictions.
Force prop Tom Robertson, who last played for the Wallabies in 2018, and Brumbies lock Nick Frost have also been called up while Scott Sio, Jordan Petaia and Nic White return to the squad after recovering from injuries.
Frost and Paia’aua are among eight uncapped players in the squad named Sunday by head coach Dave Rennie. The others are prop Pone Fa’amausili, center Lalakai Foketi, hooker Feleti Kaitu’u, backrower Rob Leota, scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan and winger Andy Muirhead. Paia’aua played for the Wallabies against the Barbarians in 2017 but players in that match did not earn a test cap.
Rennie also has retained four players who made test debuts this month in Australia’s 2-1 series victory over France, its first home series win since 2014.
“The connection this group is forming is growing every day and we’ve picked a squad of players here who are willing to work hard for each other,” coach Dave Rennie said in a statement. “We know we’ve still got a way to go to get to where we want to be but that challenge is exciting and something we’re looking forward to.
“We have a great opportunity coming up in the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Tests to build on the momentum we picked up during a tough French Series.”
Australia’s Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship schedule is still up in the air after New Zealand suspended quarantine-free travel between the two nations last week.
The first Bledisloe Cup test between the All Blacks and Wallabies is due to be played at Auckland’s Eden Park on Aug. 7 but that now seems unlikely to go ahead unless the New Zealand government grants the Australian team a travel dispensation. They could do so if they consider the test would have exceptional economic benefits to New Zealand.
The All Blacks and Wallabies are due to meet again at Perth on Aug. 21 and Wellington on Aug. 28 but those matches also are threatened by the pause on trans-Tasman travel. The New Zealand team might move to Australia to play all of the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship tests in one country.
Most of the Wallabies have been in camp in Queensland since the French series ended and are regularly tested for COVID. The squad named Sunday will assemble at Sanctuary Cove on Queensland’s Gold Coast to prepare for the Bledisloe Cup series.
Wallabies squad: Allan Alaalatoa, Tom Banks, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili, Lalakai Foketi, Nick Frost, Jake Gordon, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper (c), Len Ikitau, Feleti Kaitu’u, Andrew Kellaway, Marika Koroibete, Rob Leota, Noah Lolesio, Lachlan Lonergan, Ryan Lonergan, Tate McDermott, Fraser McReight, Andy Muirhead, Isi Naisarani, James O’Connor, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Duncan Paia’aua, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Pete Samu, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Darcy Swain, Lachlan Swinton, Matt To’omua, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Harry Wilson, Tom Wright.
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