A hugely experienced Australia squad boasting 1,406 caps has been selected by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika for Rugby World Cup 2019.
Michael Hooper, who has 95 test appearances to his name, captains the squad with Samu Kerevi as his deputy. Japan will be Hooper’s second appearance at rugby’s showpiece event while 18 players are set for their Rugby World Cup debut.
At the other end of the spectrum, Adam Ashley-Cooper will play in his fourth Rugby World Cup, becoming just the second Wallaby to ever do so after George Gregan. Ashley-Cooper has played in 17 Rugby World Cup matches, just five games behind record-holders Jason Leonard and Richie McCaw.
Uncapped winger Jordan Petaia is included despite missing most of the 2019 Super Rugby season following a Lisfranc injury. Now restored to full fitness, the 19-year-old will become the 21st player in the squad to graduate to full test honours from the World Rugby U20 Championship if capped.
“Firstly, I would like to thank all of the players who have contributed to the Wallabies' Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup campaigns this season,” said Cheika.
“We’ve become a really tight group and it was a very difficult process in picking only 31 players, but I know each player selected will travel to Japan with the full support of those team mates who won’t board the flight.
“We have worked really hard at building each week and each game so far this season, and play a brand of Rugby that Australia would be proud of and get every player contributing towards the outcome.
“It’s also important that we select a squad that will handle the tournament play and our draw in particular at the Rugby World Cup, as well as maintain a strong competition for places in the team.
“These next few weeks are about building and adding that little extra edge as a squad and we'll be working hard to make sure we deliver on the qualities we want people to see when we run out on the field in Japan.
“We have five extra train-on members coming with us to New Caledonia and then we’ll return to take on Samoa, who we have had great clashes with in the past.”
The Wallabies are about to begin an intensive 10-day training camp in New Caledonia before returning to Sydney to play Samoa at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday, 7 September. The Wallabies will play their opening match of Pool D against Fiji at the Sapporo Dome on 21 September, followed by Wales at Tokyo Stadium eight days later.
The second match against Wales will be Australia’s 50th Rugby World Cup match, becoming just the second country to achieve the milestone after New Zealand. The Wallabies will then take on Uruguay and Georgia in Oita and Shizuoka on 5 and 11 October respectively.
Australia squad for Rugby World Cup 2019
Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga’a, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese.
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, James O’Connor, Jordan Petaia, Matt Toomua, Nic White.