Australia coach Michael Cheika has selected a 31-man squad for Rugby World Cup 2015 with more than 1,200 caps in total, although there is no place for second-row James Horwill or scrum-half Nic White.
In a special twist every member of the squad was notified of their selection by a call from one of Australia victorious RWC 1999 squad with captain Stephen Moore getting the news from the man who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup that day in John Eales.
For three players – Moore, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Matt Giteau (pictured) – it will be their third Rugby World Cup appearance with Giteau a member of Australia’s side who reached the final of RWC 2003 on home soil only to lose 20-17 to England thanks to Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in extra-time.
By contrast 13 players in the squad, which has a split of 17 forwards and 14 backs, will make their Rugby World Cup debuts at England 2015, including the likes of Hooper, full-back Israel Folau and centres Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani.
Only two members of the squad have not feature in Australia’s Rugby Championship winning campaign in flanker Sean McMahon and prop Toby Smith, the only uncapped player selected.
“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 England with the full support of those team-mates who won’t board the flight,” said Cheika, who took over as coach in October 2014.
A team to be proud of
“Our primary focus throughout the Super Rugby competition, The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup was to select a balanced squad between youth, experience and form and this squad certainly delivers on this.
“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.
“The first part of the year during the Super Rugby season, we worked hard at building relationships and strong foundations, and during The Rugby Championship we wanted to continue to improve and play a brand of rugby that Australia could be proud of and get every player contributing towards the outcome.
“It’s essential we continue to improve over the next four weeks as a squad and we’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver on the qualities we want people to see in the Wallabies team of 2015.”
Australia will hold a camp in Sydney this weekend and will then depart for Indiana to prepare for their match with the USA Eagles in Chicago on 5 September.
An additional 10 players will remain with the squad until they depart for England on 13 September, in RWC 2011 captain Horwill, White, Sam Carter, David Dennis, Tetera Faulkner, James Hanson, Scott Higginbotham, Samu Kerevi, Christian Lealiifano and Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Australia begin their RWC 2015 campaign against Fiji at the Millennium stadium on 23 September, before facing Uruguay in Birmingham four days later. They will then face England and Wales at Twickenham on 3 and 10 October with the top two sides in Pool A progressing to the quarter-finals.
Australia squad for RWC 2015
Forwards: Stephen Moore (captain), Tatafu Polota-Nau, Greg Holmes, Sekope Kepu, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Toby Smith, Kane Douglas, Dean Mumm, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock.
Backs: Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Matt Giteau, Matt Toomua, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Drew Mitchell, Henry Speight, Joe Tomane, Tevita Kuridrani.
You can follow the Australia squad on Twitter
Tickets are still available for RWC 2015. For details click here >>