Michael Hooper returns but Kurtley Beale is in flux as the Wallabies name squad for Europe Spring tour | sport

Sidelined Wallabies legend Michael Hooper will return to the rugby Test cauldron for the first time since pulling out of the Argentina tour in September, citing ‘mindset’ issues, as national coach Dave Rennie named the 121 Test champion in his 36-man squad for Australia. The spring European tour begins next week.

Although 123 Test veteran James Slipper will continue as captain on the next tour, the return of Hooper, 30, the Wallabies talisman, is a boost for a side struggling for form and confidence at approaching the 2023 Rugby World Cup in September.

“Michael’s return to the squad is huge for our team on and off the pitch,” Rennie confirmed. “We will continue to make sure he has the support around him that he needs.”

Currently ranked ninth in the world, the team’s lowest ranking since the rankings were introduced in the professional era, the Wallabies face five nations from the northern hemisphere, including the two currently top-ranked teams in the world, France and Ireland, on the grueling five-week tour. through Europe.

Rennie selected five uncapped players from the squad with Melbourne Rebels stalwart Sam Talakai and NSW pair Ben Donaldson and Mark Nawaqanitawase named as members of the Wallabies squad for the first time.

Donaldson and Nawaqanitawase have impressed in the Australia A program in Fiji and Japan, alongside specialist fullback Jock Campbell and Langi Gleeson who are the two other players who could potentially make their European debuts. Gleeson’s selection continues an impressive rise for Manly Marlin, 21, who is 188cm tall, weighs 107kg and is the Waratahs fastest man over 40 yards.

Versatile flanker Ned Hanigan has been named in his first domestic setup since 2020 after also impressing in Japan for Australia A, with Western Force forward rower Tom Robertson joining after Waratahs top-tier star Angus Bell was cruelly ruled out for the rest of the international season with his foot injury.

Rennie picked two overseas-based players into the squad under the Giteau law, with La Rochelle’s Will Skelton – the 203cm, 140kg striker – returning to Wallaby gold after appearing in all three games off the bench in last year’s Spring Tour.

Veteran fly-half Bernard Foley is the other overseas-based player chosen, with the No.10 making a confident return to the Bledisloe Cup Series Test arena last month. Quade Cooper, the Wallabies’ other senior playing option, is still recovering from the Achilles injury he suffered while warming up for the first Test against England in July.

While Donaldson and Noah Lolesio will vie with Foley for the fly-half position, Kurtley Beale’s bid for a fourth World Cup is in flux after the 33-year-old was dropped from the 36-man squad. The mercurial full-back will need a great Super Rugby season with the Waratahs if he is to become the first native man to 100 Test caps.

Million-dollar man Taniela Tupou has been named fit and ready to return to duty at the top tier, while Brumbies fullback Tom Banks returns to the bottom three after suffering a serious broken arm against the ‘England. He will face Jordan Petaia, Andrew Kellaway and Campbell for the all-important fullback position.

Australia kick off their campaign with a test against Scotland in Edinburgh on October 30 before a November 6 test against France in Paris, the first since 2016. They will then play against Italy in Florence on November 13 before testing against Ireland in Dublin in November. 20 and Wales in Cardiff on November 27 to complete their 2022 season. The team meet in Sydney on Tuesday and fly out the following day.

Wallabies manager Dave Rennie is under increasing pressure, with his winning percentage dropping below 38%, the lowest of any Australian manager in the professional era. He remains optimistic. “We have a huge opportunity over the next five matches to test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world and string together performances that our supporters are proud of at home in Australia.”

“It’s been really nice to continue giving our players game time through the Australia A program and a number of these guys have been rewarded for their form with selection to the team.”

Australia team: Allan Ala’alatoa, Tom Banks, Jock Campbell, Ben Donaldson, Folau Fainga’a, Lalakai Foketi, Bernard Foley, Matt Gibbon, Nick Frost, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon, Ned Hanigan, Reece Hodge, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Noah Lolesio, Lachlan Lonergan, Tate McDermott, Fraser McReight, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Cadeyrn Neville, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, Dave Porecki, Tom Robertson, Pete Samu, Will Skelton, James Slipper, Sam Talakai, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Tom Wright.

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