Wallabies take Sevens stars on European tour

The selection of four members of the silver medal-winning Australian Sevens team from the Commonwealth Games highlights the 36-man Wallabies touring party unveiled today for this year’s Spring Tour.

Australia’s Sevens captain Pat McCutcheon has been included alongside three of his team-mates from the just concluded New Delhi tournament – halfback Nick Phipps, winger Lachie Turner and winger/fullback Luke Morahan.

The quartet are due to return to the country from India with the rest of the Australian Commonwealth Games team on Saturday morning, with the athletes landing in Sydney on a specially chartered flight at 6.30am.

Of the foursome, all but Turner is uncapped, although Morahan did feature as a replacement on last year’s Spring Tour, appearing in the non-cap midweek match against the Cardiff Blues.

While the 23-year-old McCutcheon is a fresh to a Wallabies tour, he did feature twice for the Australian Barbarians during the midweek series with England earlier in the year.

Twenty-one-year-old Phipps is the squad bolter, having won the third halfback position backing up Will Genia and Luke Burgess.

A member of Sydney University’s winning Shute Shield squad last month, Phipps has yet to play Super Rugby, but is on-course to achieve that goal next year after signing for the Melbourne Rebels.

Today’s selection means that Phipps has become the first player with Rebels’ affiliations to win selection for the Wallabies.

While Phipps is still to start out on his senior representative career in Super Rugby: at the other end of the scale, the evergreen Queensland Reds lock Van Humphries is celebrating his first Wallabies selection at age 34.

One of just two players in the touring group to have surpassed his 30th birthday – Australia’s most capped second row Nathan Sharpe (32) is the other – Humphries made his state debut for Queensland a decade ago.

He later played for the NSW Waratahs, and has played for clubs in Japan and Italy and at provincial level with North Harbour in New Zealand while also racking up 65 appearances in Super Rugby through his career.

Humphries missed out on selection earlier in the year after ending the Super Rugby season dogged by an ankle injury.

The veteran Queenslander will become the oldest player ever on debut for Australia should he feature in any of the five Test matches that are included on the seven-match tour itinerary.

Humphries is one of seven uncapped players included for the tour.

Queensland Reds winger Rod Davies earns his spot after being unavailable for selection earlier in the year due to a torn hamstring sustained during the Reds’ penultimate match in Super Rugby against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

The two other uncapped players are Brumbies centre Pat McCabe and Queensland Reds loose forward Scott Higginbotham. Both were involved in Australia’s Tri Nations squad earlier in the year but didn’t play a match.

Brumbies second rower Mark Chisholm is included after making a remarkable recovery from an injured knee sustained in club rugby last month.

Prop Ben Alexander is also back from an enforced layoff, having not featured since Australia’s 49-3 win over Fiji at Canberra in June due to a knee injury.

The 25-year-old, who once spent time with the Bedford club in England, earned the maiden start of his professional career during Australia’s Spring Tour two years ago, appearing in the 30-20 win against Italy at Padua. Alexander is one of just 18 players, out of the 35 who featured on the 2008 Spring Tour, that are involved again this time.

The Wallabies return to Italy on this trip, playing the penultimate game of the tour against the Azzurri at Florence.

The tour starts in Hong Kong with the final Bledisloe Cup Test of the year against the All Blacks at the end of the month before the Wallabies travel to Europe for six matches through

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