On Friday former Wallabies coach John Connolly called on Dave Rennie to be “brave” with his selection ahead of the Spring Tour.
Two days later Rennie did just that, leaving behind Kurtley Beale while selecting five uncapped players in a 36-man squad for the five end of season Tests.
Beale was not the only big name player left behind, with two-time NRL premiership-winner Suliasi Vunivalu also excluded after being continually looked past throughout the home international season.
The hulking winger has seemingly fallen behind rising star Mark Nawaqanitawase – the Waratahs outside back who started the Super Rugby season outside the squad but finished the campaign in fine form and was the breakout star from Australia A’s three-match tour against a Japanese XV.
As earlier reported, inspirational leader Michael Hooper has also returned but won’t captain the side, with James Slipper retaining the captaincy after leading the side during the Rugby Championship.
Hooper was applauded for his “courageous” decision to withdraw from the Wallabies on the eve of the Wallabies’ opening TWC match against Michael Cheika’s Los Pumas in Argentina.
“To have Michael back in the group is massive for our team on and off the field and we’ll continue to make sure that he has the support around him he needs,” Rennie said.
Bernard Foley is one of two overseas picks and is one of three playmakers in the squad, with Noah Lolesio and uncapped Ben Donaldson selected.
La Rochelle’s Will Skelton, who featured on last year’s Spring Tour, has also been called up and will be hoping for more minutes than last year after being used sparingly.
Utility forward Ned Hanigan also returns and will push for selection at blindside flanker, with Rob Leota out for the rest of the season.
Hanigan was one of Australia A’s most consistent performers against Japan and was a standout during their 52-48 loss on Friday.
Langi Gleeson, the 21-year-old Waratahs back-rower, has also been chosen and while he might be considered a development player on the tour could be a bolter at next year’s World Cup. Harry Wilson, who started at No.8 in Bledisloe II, was left out.
Tom Banks, who started the year for the Wallabies in the No.15 jersey but missed the next eight Tests after breaking his arm in Perth, has been recalled and is the favourite to play fullback despite signing with Japanese club Honda on a huge $1.4 million deal.
Reds fullback Jock Campbell has also been selected and will likely be given an opportunity on the tour after not being called up during the TRC.
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The fullback position is the most contentious ahead of the tour, with no-one, including Banks, stamping their authority over the role since Israel Folau wore the jersey.
The tour shapes as a defining one for Rennie, with the Wallabies coach’s winning percentage an underwhelming 37.9 per cent.
The Wallabies will get their tour underway against Scotland at Murrayfield on October 30, with the opening match huge in the context of their five-week tour given they will face World Cup contenders France and Ireland along the way.
“We’ve got a massive opportunity over the next five matches to test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world and string together some performances that our supporters are proud of back home in Australia,” Rennie said.
“It’s been really pleasing to continue to get game time into our players through the Australia A program and a number of those guys have been rewarded for their form with selection in the squad.”
Wallabies squad for the 2022 Spring Tour (age, team, Tests played)
Allan Alaalatoa (28, ACT Brumbies, 60 Tests)
Tom Banks (28, ACT Brumbies, 20 Tests)
Jock Campbell (27, Queensland Reds, uncapped)
Ben Donaldson (23, NSW Waratahs, uncapped)
Folau Fainga’a (27, ACT Brumbies, 33 Tests)
Lalakai Foketi (27, NSW Waratahs, 4 Tests)
Bernard Foley (32, Kubota Spears, 73 Tests)
Matt Gibbon (27, Melbourne Rebels, 2 Tests)
Nick Frost (23, ACT Brumbies, 5 Tests)
Langi Gleeson (21, NSW Waratahs, uncapped)
Jake Gordon (29, NSW Waratahs, 16 Tests)
Ned Hanigan (27, NSW Waratahs, 25 Tests)
Reece Hodge (28, Melbourne Rebels, 60 Tests)
Jed Holloway (29, NSW Waratahs, 6 Tests)
Michael Hooper (30, NSW Waratahs, 121 Tests)
Len Ikitau (24, ACT Brumbies, 21 Tests)
Andrew Kellaway (27, Melbourne Rebels, 18 Tests)
Noah Lolesio (22, ACT Brumbies, 14 Tests)
Lachlan Lonergan (23, ACT Brumbies, 6 Tests)
Tate McDermott (23, Queensland Reds, 18 Tests)
Fraser McReight (23, Queensland Reds, 8 Tests)
Mark Nawaqanitawase (22, NSW Waratahs, uncapped)
Cadeyrn Neville (33, ACT Brumbies, 3 Tests)
Hunter Paisami (24, Queensland Reds, 20 Tests)
Jordan Petaia (22, Queensland Reds, 22 Tests)
Matt Philip (28, Melbourne Rebels, 27 Tests)
David Porecki (29, NSW Waratahs, 7 Tests)
Tom Robertson (28, Western Force, 27 Tests)
Pete Samu (30, ACT Brumbies, 28 Tests)
Will Skelton (30, Stade Rochelais, 21 Tests)
James Slipper (c) (33, ACT Brumbies, 123 Tests)
Sam Talakai (31, Melbourne Rebels, uncapped)
Taniela Tupou (26, Queensland Reds, 43 Tests)
Rob Valetini (24, ACT Brumbies, 27 Tests)
Nic White (32, ACT Brumbies, 56 Tests)
Tom Wright (25, ACT Brumbies, 18 Tests)
2022 Spring Tour Fixtures
Wallabies v Scotland, Sunday 30 October, 3:30am AEDT at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Wallabies v France, Sunday 6 November, 7:00am AEDT at Stade de France, Paris
Wallabies v Italy, Sunday 13 November, 12:00am AEDT at Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Wallabies v Ireland, Sunday 20 November, 7:00am AEDT at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Wallabies v Wales, Sunday 27 November, 2:15am AEDT at Principality Stadium, Cardiff