Cheika names 6 uncapped players in Wallabies train-on squad
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia coach Michael Cheika recalled veteran hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and named six uncapped players Sunday in a 36-man train-on squad for this season's Rugby Championship.
The 33-year-old England-based Polota-Nau was rested by Cheika for Australia's three-test series against Ireland in June. His is now back in contention to play his 83rd test when the Wallabies open their Championship and Bledisloe Cup campaign against New Zealand at Sydney on Aug. 18.
Polota-Nau has been selected along with flyhalf and former Leicester teammate Matt Toomua under the "Giteau law" which allows Wallaby coaches to pick overseas-based players once they have playd 60 tests.
Toomua was a surprise selection in Cheika's squad for a Championship trial match on Friday after leaving Leicester and signing for the Melbourne Rebels.
Cheika has named four hookers in his squad, including Polata-Nau's New South Wales Waratahs teammate Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and uncapped Brumbies rake Folau Fainga'a.
Teenaged Melbourne Rebels center Jordan Petaia, who starred in Friday's trial match in Sydney, is one of six rookies in the squad. With Billy Meakes, Petaia provides cover in midfield after injuries to regular test centers Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi.
Brumbies fullback Tom Banks, Fainga'a, Meakes and Rebels pair Jack Maddocks and Jermaine Ainsley are the others in with a chance of test debuts.
Flanker Pete Samu returns to the squad after playing for the victorious Christchurch-based Crusaders in Saturday's Super Rugby final.
Cheika will pare down his squad after a training camp later this week.
Australia squad, backs: Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Billy Meakes, Sefa Naivalu, Jordan Petaia, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Curtis Rona, Matt Toomua. Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Folau Fainga'a, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Pete Samu, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou.