Outcasts at the Waratahs, backrower Michael Wells and outside back Andrew Kellaway are among 11 uncapped players in Dave Rennie’s Wallabies squad for next month’s series against France.
The Rebels duo, who were allowed to pursue opportunities elsewhere after spending years at the Waratahs, are two of the bolters in Rennie’s squad.
But Kellaway’s star showing against the Crusaders on Saturday, where he was immense in defence and ran down All Blacks flyer Will Jordan, the former Australian under-20s star will finally have the chance to run out for the Wallabies.
His selection caps a whirlwind two months, having returned to the Rebels midway through the year from Japan.
Kellaway left the Waratahs in 2018 after debuting under Michael Cheika and playing alongside Israel Folau where he had a stint in the English Premiership at Leicester.
Wells, who can play anywhere in the backrow and has built a reputation as a hardworking loose-forward who is strong in defence, was the Waratahs forward of the year in 2018 but wasn’t valued enough to stay at the club.
But he has become a mainstay at the Rebels since joining the Melbourne club in 2020.
Elsewhere, Rebels forward Rob Leota and Waratahs midfielder Lalakai Foketi are the other interesting selections.
Foketi in particular is a surprise, but has taken the place of Irae Simone, who struggled on debut alongside Noah Lolesio during the Wallabies’ crushing Bledisloe III loss in Sydney.
Injured Waratahs duo Jake Gordon and Izaia Perese have been selected despite picking up injuries over the week, while Lachie Swinton faces a nervous wait as to whether he will be available after being red carded during his side’s 40-7 loss to the Chiefs on Saturday.
Brumbies halfback Ryan Lonergan has been called in on standby should Gordon be ruled out.
His selection capped a marvellous Sunday for the Lonergan family, with younger brother Lachlan included as one of three hookers.
Backs Jordan Petaia and Suliasi Vunivalu weren’t considered after suffering leg injuries.
As revealed by foxsports.com.au last month, Michael Hooper will captain the side despite not playing a minute of Super Rugby action in 2021.
The veteran openside flanker was on sabbatical and spent the season playing under Simon Cron at Toyota in the Japanese Top League.
Lock Izack Rodda hasn’t been included.
The World Cup member left Australian rugby during the height of the Covid pandemic but is once again eligible for selection after signing for the Force in 2022. But Rennie, unlike Matt Philip, has decided not to parachute the experienced second-row into the squad after returning from France.
Clubs represented: 12 Brumbies, 9 Reds, 9 Rebels, 6 Waratahs, 2 Western Force
Forwards: Michael Hooper (c), Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili*, Feleti Kaitu’u*, Rob Leota*, Lachlan Lonergan*, Fraser McReight, Isi Naisarani, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Darcy Swain*, Lachie Swinton, Sitaleki Timani, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Michael Wells*, Harry Wilson
Backs: Tom Banks, Filipo Daugunu, Lalakai Foketi*, Jake Gordon, Reece Hodge, Len Ikitau*, Andrew Kellaway*, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Tate McDermott, Andy Muirhead*, James O’Connor, Hunter Paisami, Izaia Perese*, Matt To’omua, Nic White, Tom Wright