SYDNEY, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Australia coach Michael Cheika retained seven uncapped players on Friday in his 34-man squad for the Rugby Championship opener against world champions New Zealand.
Hooker Jordan Uelese, flanker Adam Korczyk and lock Izack Rodda are long shots to make their test debuts in Sydney on Aug. 19 but outside backs Marika Koroibete, Izaia Perese, Billy Meakes and Curtis Rona have a better chance.
Cheika’s backline stocks will look a little threadbare if centre Samu Kerevi (pectoral strain) and utility Kurtley Beale (hamstring) fail to recover from injury in time to play in the first of back-to-back tests against the All Blacks.
Flanker Michael Hooper will captain the squad after being named as the successor to Stephen Moore, who was also included in the squad despite announcing his retirement from tests at the end of the season.
Experienced halfbacks Will Genia and Bernard Foley have been named as his vice captains.
“Will and Bernard are starting to find their voice as real leaders within the team and will be valuable assets to the captain in Michael,” said Cheika.
“They have been selected because both of them are hungry to win and are prepared to keep both themselves and their team to the high standards required to take the Wallabies to be the best.”
Forwards - Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Kane Douglas, Tetera Faulkner, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Adam Korczyk, Sean McMahon, Stephen Moore, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Lopeti Timani, Jordan Uelese.
Backs - Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Billy Meakes, Izaia Perese, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Curtis Rona, Henry Speight. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)