Sport

Naivalu, Latu in line to join long list of Wallabies debutants

Sefa Naivalu of the Rebels has been called up to the Wallabies squad.
Sefa Naivalu of the Rebels has been called up to the Wallabies squad. Ross Setford

RUGBY: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika looks likely to add two more debutants to a growing list after naming winger Sefa Naivalu and hooker Tolu Latu in a 30-man squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship clashes against South Africa and Argentina.

Melbourne Rebels flier Naivalu was born in Fiji but became eligible to play for Australia on Monday.

He has been involved in a number of training camps with the Wallabies.

Latu, who had a good Super Rugby season with the Waratahs, is set for his Wallabies bow after replacing veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau, who has been rested to overcome a forearm injury.

Winger Drew Mitchell, back-row forward Ben McCalman and lock Will Skelton have all been left out due to a lack of recent match fitness.

Cheika has already picked nine debutants this year but said it was another chance for new players to prove their worth.

"It is disappointing for Tatafu, who has been one of the most consistent and valued members of our finishers off the bench,” he said.

"He needs time to get his body right and we respect that.”

Mitchell will return to his French club Toulon, leaving Will Genia as the last remaining European-based Wallaby.

"We're happy with how Drew and Ben are progressing,” Cheika added.

"The best thing for both players is to play some regular rugby to get themselves back to full form and fitness.

"With injury comes opportunity, and this is the opportunity now for Tolu to make his step up to international rugby.

"All our newly capped players this season have taken their chances with both hands and I expect Tolu to do the same, which should give all our fans confidence in the future.”

Matt Toomua has also been left out of the squad as he continues to follow concussion protocols following his head knock against the All Blacks in Sydney last month.

Nick Frisby has been added to the squad and joins Nick Phipps as back-up to in-form halfback Genia.

The Wallabies take on the Springboks in Pretoria on October 1, then Argentina at London's Twickenham a week later.

Wallabies: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Quade Cooper, Kane Douglas, Scott Fardy, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Nick Frisby, Will Genia, James Hanson, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Tolu Latu, Sean McMahon, Stephen Moore (capt), Luke Morahan, Dean Mumm, Sefania Naivalu, Nick Phipps, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Henry Speight, Lopeti Timani.

Topics:  michael cheika, rugby championship, sefa naivalu, tolu latu, wallabies


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