Robinson, Phipps cut from Wallabies squad
SYDNEY (AP) — Veteran prop Benn Robinson and scrumhalf Nick Phipps were among the 10 players cut from the Wallabies squad as new coach Ewen McKenzie narrowed his selection pool for the Bledisloe Cup test against the World Cup champion New Zealand All Blacks.
McKenzie, who replaced Robbie Deans as head coach after Australia’s 2-1 series defeat to the British and Irish Lions last month, included eight uncapped players in the 30-man squad announced Friday. He still needs to trim that down to 22 for the Aug. 17 test in Sydney.
Robinson, who started in the front row in the tests against the Lions, wasn’t among the four props picked in the squad preparing to take on the All Blacks, losing his spot to the uncapped Scott Sio.
“He’s very disappointed,” said McKenzie, a former prop who won a World Cup with Australia. “Obviously for a player of his experience, it’s a bit of a blow. But everyone needs to understand you’ve got to be delivering.
“He knows what he needs to do. We’ll keep him close and he’s got every chance of pushing his way back in.”
Queensland Reds playmaker Quade Cooper made the cut, as expected, along with uncapped flyhalves Matt Toomua and Bernard Foley. Nic White was preferred to Phipps as backup for scrumhalf Will Genia.
Cooper, who has 38 test caps, fell out of favor with Deans and wasn’t selected for the Lions series, when the experiment with James O’Connor in the key playmaking role backfired. O’Connor is still in McKenzie’s squad, but will only be considered as an outside back.
McKenzie, who has worked with Cooper at the Reds for four seasons, said Brumbies pivot Toomua and Waratahs flyhalf Foley were still in the calculations for a Wallabies call up.
“We don’t need to make a decision publicly about the play-making role until one hour before the game,” McKenzie said.
Other uncapped players in the squad include backrowers Scott Fardy and Jake Schatz and center Tevita Kuridrani.
“The reality is not one player in the current squad has lifted the Bledisloe Cup before,” McKenzie said. “But if they are good enough over seven days and two matches, then this will change.”
Australia won the Tri-Nations title in 2011, but hasn’t won the annual Bledisloe Cup series against New Zealand since 2002.
Forwards: James Horwill (captain), Albert Anae, Ben Alexander, Kane Douglas, Saia Faingaa, Scott Fardy, Liam Gill, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper.
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Quade Cooper, Nick Cummins, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Jesse Mogg, James O’Connor, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White.