* Holloway makes first Wallabies squad
* Scrumhalf Gordon and flanker Cottrell also seeking debuts
* (Adds details, Cheika quotes)
MELBOURNE, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Australia coach Michael Cheika has included New South Wales Waratahs lock Jed Holloway among three uncapped players in a 31-man squad released on Thursday for the third and final Bledisloe Cup test against New Zealand in Yokohama.
Waratahs scrumhalf Jake Gordon and loose forward Angus Cottrell, an unused squad member for the final Rugby Championship matches against South Africa and Argentina, are the other two looking for a debut.
But Holloway, who can also slot into the back row, is the sole newcomer to the Wallabies squad for the Oct. 27 match, a dead rubber after the All Blacks sealed the annual trans-Tasman series with wins in Sydney and Auckland.
Cheika, who coached Holloway at the Waratahs before taking on the Wallabies job full-time, said the 25-year-old had stepped up after being cut from a preliminary training squad mid-year.
“I think he’s had a good year,” Cheika told reporters in Sydney on Thursday. “I feel like he’s taken a step forward in the way he approaches some of the areas around the contact.
“He’s a good powerful athlete, he’s a good ball carrier, he’s very dynamic, good lineout work, so he’s got all the skill-sets and I think I want to show him what the next level looks like.”
Samu Kerevi makes his return after missing the Rugby Championship with a bicep injury and Cheika said he might have the Queensland centre play at a rugby sevens tournament in Byron Bay on Saturday to get some match fitness.
The 25-year-old’s last match was the third test against Ireland in June. Reece Hodge has started at outside centre in all six games in his absence.
Centre Tevita Kuridrani has been left out as he continues his recovery from a pectoral muscle injury sustained in July, allowing another chance for seven-test Sefa Naivalu, who played his last match against Italy in June, 2017.
But loose forward Jack Dempsey has been included after missing the entire season with a serious hamstring injury.
England-based hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and inside centre Matt Toomua are unavailable, while number eight Caleb Timu has been omitted.
Cheika said 24-year-old Timu, who debuted against Ireland during the June series, was still not used to the rigours of travel and needed time to freshen up.
As expected, flanker Lukhan Tui was also left out, having announced on social media on Sunday that he had withdrawn himself from selection to look after his family after the death of his step-father.
The Wallabies will have a training camp in Japan and pick their squad for the European tour, where they play Wales, Italy and England, after the All Blacks game.
Forwards - Jermaine Ainsley, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Angus Cottrell*, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga’a, Ned Hanigan, Jed Holloway*, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou
Backs - Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Jake Gordon*, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Sefa Naivalu, Nick Phipps
*denotes uncapped (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)