Speight in Australia’s Rugby Championship squad

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has named Fijian-born winger Henry Speight in a 32 man squad for the Rugby Championship which starts next month.

Speight will not be eligible to play for the Wallabies until September the 11th but he has been included in the squad anyway.

McKenzie has retained 25 players that featured in Australia’s three-test sweep over France last month and also retained Michael Hooper as captain for the Rugby Championship.

The squad, minus those players participating in the Super Rugby Final will
meet on Sunday the 3rd of August for a week long training camp. The players
involved in the final will join the team in Bathurst on Wednesday the 6th of
August.

The 32-man squad boasts a combined total of 781 Test appearances and includes
players from all five Super Rugby provinces – NSW Waratahs (11), ACT Brumbies
(11), Queensland Reds (4), Western Force (4) and the Melbourne Rebels (2).

McKenzie said the familiarity of the squad would be beneficial ahead of the
opening Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday 16 August.

“We’ve come a long way as a group over the past 12 months and the
consistency we’re now applying across selections, high-performance behaviours
and our playing style is a positive sign that we are heading in the right direction,”
he said.

“The challenge for us now is to continue this consistency throughout
the Rugby Championship, beginning with a Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand.

“We understand a great deal of attention going into the match will be
around the All Blacks and their motivation to create a new piece of history
by winning a world-record 18 consecutive games.

“For us, it’s no secret that our desire to win back the Bledisloe
Cup grows every year, but if our attention isn’t focused on the right
areas during our preparations then it will be easy to get caught looking too
far ahead.

“We recognise that and will have a clear understanding of how we are
going to approach and prepare for the opening game.”

Players who have not been considered for selection due to injury include, but
is not limited to, hooker Stephen Moore (knee), flankers David Pocock (knee)
and Dave Dennis (knee), scrumhalf Will Genia (ankle), flyhalf Quade Cooper (shoulder),
centre Kyle Godwin (knee) and outside back Chris Feauai-Sautia (shoulder).

The Wallabies are currently enjoying a winning streak of their own with their
seven consecutive victories an accomplishment last achieved by an Australian
team in 1999/2000.

Australia Squad:

Forwards:

Ben Alexander, Pek Cowan, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Scott Sio, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Hanson, Nathan Charles, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper (captain), Matt Hodgson, Wycliff Palu, Ben McCalman.

Backs:

Nic White, Nick Phipps, Luke Burgess, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua, Christian Leali’ifano, Tevita Kuridrani, Rob Horne, Joe Tomane, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Henry Speight, Pat McCabe, Israel Folau.

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