SYDNEY (AP) — Australia has picked former rugby league international Karmichael Hunt among eight uncapped players in a revamped rugby squad for June tests against Fiji, Scotland and Italy.
Hunt, Lukhan Tui, Richard Hardwick, Ned Hanigan, Jack Dempsey, Joe Powell, Marika Koroibete and Eto Nabuli are the uncapped players in the 34-man squad that will be led by 117-test veteran hooker Stephen Moore.
"Around the squad as a whole, it's an opportunity to develop a couple of younger guys who will be here in 2018 and 2019, who we think we will benefit," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said on Tuesday.
Hardwick is expected to be a backup to vice-captain Michael Hooper on the openside flank, while Hanigan and Dempsey would be vying for the blindside flanker role in the absence of veteran back-rowers Scott Fardy and Dean Mumm.
Scott Higginbotham was recalled after two years out of international rugby and likely to be competing with Lopeti Timani to start at No. 8.
World Cup locks Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas and Will Skelton missed out on selection, with Cheika favoring Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Sam Carter and Tui.
France-based Will Genia was recalled and will likely be the first-choice scrumhalf, backed up by Nick Phipps and Powell.
Hunt is expected to fill a utility role, Israel Folau is set to retain his place at fullback, and Koroibete and Nabuli will compete with established test players for spots on the wings.
Australia opens its international season against Fiji in Melbourne on June 10, followed on consecutive weekends by matches against Scotland in Sydney and Italy in Brisbane.
Forwards: Stephen Moore (captain), Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Sam Carter, Jack Dempsey, Ned Hanigan, Richard Hardwick, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Scott Sio, Toby Smith, Lopeti Timani, Lukhan Tui.
Backs: Quade Cooper, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Kyle Godwin, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Eto Nabuli, Sefa Naivalu, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Henry Speight.