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UPDATE 1-Rugby-Uncapped Enever, Philip named in Wallabies tour squad
October 29, 2017 / 5:02 AM / 20 days ago

UPDATE 1-Rugby-Uncapped Enever, Philip named in Wallabies tour squad

* Cheika brings in uncapped lock duo

* Arnold, Dempsey and Ainsley scratched from tour due to injury

* Tui selected but to miss opening two games (Adds details, quotes)

MELBOURNE, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Australia coach Michael Cheika sprung a selection surprise on Sunday by naming uncapped locks Blake Enever and Matt Philip in his 32-man squad for their northern hemisphere tour.

Cheika said he had been impressed by the pair’s form in the third-tier National Rugby Championship (NRC) and, with regular second rower Rory Arnold ruled out of the tour with a knee injury, they would have a chance to push for selection in next month’s tests against Japan, Wales, England and Scotland.

A big line-out jumper, Enever hails from Queensland state but plays for the Canberra-based ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby. Cheika said he liked the 26-year-old’s willingness to get stuck in.

“(Enever‘s) athletic nature is something we feel we can build on,” Cheika told reporters on a conference call.

”He’s got a bit of a mongrel in him. He doesn’t mind getting into the tough stuff and it’s going to be tough over there.

“He was obviously a bit surprised when I gave him a call.”

Philip, who represented the Australia under-20 side and played Super Rugby with the now defunct Western Force, had improved steadily throughout the NRC.

“Matt Philip I think has improved out of sight from game one to the final game,” said Cheika of the 23-year-old.

“I think it’s good to give the younger guys a run.”

Cheika said he had been set to bring uncapped New Zealand-born prop Jermaine Ainsley on tour but the former Force player had to be scratched due to an ankle problem.

While Lukhan Tui has been included the lock is expected to miss at least the Japan game in Yokohama on Saturday and the Wales test on Nov. 11 as he recovers from a hamstring strain.

With loose forward Jack Dempsey already ruled out of the tour with a serious hamstring injury, former Force number eight Ben McCalman is back in the frame on the strength of his impressive run off the bench during the win over the invitational Barbarians in Sydney on Saturday.

The 49-test workhorse’s Super Rugby season was all but wiped out by a succession of shoulder injuries and he has not played for the Wallabies since August 2016.

“He’s obviously going to have a fair bit to catch up on,” said Cheika. “But he’s got the experience to do it, no doubt.”

Two uncapped centres have been included in Billy Meakes and Izaia Perese but there was no room for flyhalf Quade Cooper, with Cheika happy to have utility backs Kurtley Beale and Reece Hodge on call behind incumbent number 10 Bernard Foley.

Squad:

Forwards - Allan Alaalatoa, Adam Coleman, Blake Enever, Tetera Faulkner, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Stephen Moore, Matt Philip, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Lopeti Timani, Lukhan Tui, Jordan Uelese

Backs - Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Reece Hodge, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Billy Meakes, Izaia Perese, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Curtis Rona, Henry Speight (Reporting by Ian Ransom, Editing by peter Rutherford)

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