21 Aug 2015

White, Horwill miss the cut for Wallabies

4:55 pm on 21 August 2015

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika's picked just two halfbacks and two hookers in his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad.

Nic White en route to the match-winning try against the All Blacks in Sydney

Nic White seems the unluckiest of the players to miss Wallabies selection Photo: Photosport

Cheika has named Nick Phipps and Will Genia as his only two specialist halfbacks, cutting Nic White, the star in Australia's win over the All Blacks in Sydney.

It's a move that will puzzle many seasoned observers, who saw White score the match-winning try in the Bledisloe Cup opener, while Phipps struggled at Eden Park as well as ANZ Stadium, and appears easily rattled.

Australian rugby player Nick Phipps

Taking Nick Phipps (pictured) and not Nic White to the World Cup will puzzle many rugby pundits. Photo: Photosport

The hookers are captain Stephen Moore, who will reach 100 Tests at the tournament starting next month in England, and Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Bernard Foley and Quade Cooper are the first five eighths, with Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale and Matt Giteau - who can play halfback if needed - the chosen inside backs.

Quade Cooper walks from the field after being issued a yellow card, Auckland 2015.

Michael Cheika clearly has plenty of faith in New Zealand-born No.10 Quade Cooper. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Former captain James Horwill is the other surprise omission, while uncapped former Chiefs prop Toby Smith and promising flanker Sean McMahon are the bolters.

Loosehead prop Smith was born in Queensland but raised in New Zealand where he was a member of the nation's 2008 under-20 World Championship-winning team, before winning two Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs.

Toby Smith in action for the Chiefs

Toby Smith in action for the Chiefs Photo: Photosport

His 21-year-old Melbourne Rebels team-mate McMahon has played only three Tests, but is a versatile back-rower who will be expected to battle incumbent Scott Fardy for the blindside position.

Though 2011 World Cup captain Horwill got a run in their victorious Rugby Championship campaign, Cheika has omitted the Queensland Reds lock from his squad, opting for former Europe-based pair Dean Mumm and Kane Douglas, along with Rob Simmons and Will Skelton in the second row.

Wingers Joe Tomane and Rob Horne were also selected, joining Fiji-born Henry Speight and France-based Drew Mitchell in the Wallabies' outside backs.

"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," Cheika said.

The Wallabies coach Michael Cheika

The Wallabies coach Michael Cheika Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"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."

There's plenty of fresh faces, World Cup-wise in Cheika's squad - 13 of the team have yet to feature at the pinnacle tournament.

They play a final warm-up match against the United States in Chicago on 5 September before their World Cup opener against Pacific Nations Cup champions Fiji on September 23rd.

Another 10 players, including Horwill and White, will join the World Cup squad for a training camp in Indiana ahead of the US match.

The Wallabies are in the so-called Pool of Death at the World Cup, which starts in England next month - Pool A features Fiji, Wales, Uruguay and the hosts as well as the Australians.


Forwards - David Pocock, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Greg Holmes, Stephen Moore (captain), Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio, Will Skelton, Ben McCalman, Wycliff Palu, Sean McMahon, Kane Douglas, Toby Smith, Dean Mumm

Backs - Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Giteau, Bernard Foley, Quade Cooper, Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale, Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Rob Horne, Henry Speight, Joe Tomane