Cheika has eyes on 2019 with experimental Wallabies squad


Michael Cheika has put his faith in youth for the Wallabies Tests against Fiji, Scotland and Italy, drafting in eight potential debutants.

Making way are a host of big names, including Rob Horne and Scott Fardy, while Kurtley Beale is rested in order to help him recover from an injury-hit season with Wasps.

Ned Hanigan, Marika Koroibete, Richard Hardwick, Joe Powell, Jack Dempsey, Eto Nabuli, Lukhan Tui and Karmichael Hunt are the fresh faces in Cheika's first squad of the year, which the coach says begins the route to the 2019 World Cup.

"This is a strategy we want to pursue," he said.

"We've got to back our young players that are coming through and are putting form on the board.

"You can see some of our experienced players are there as well but young players are putting their hand up and showing that they want to be a part of it."

He added: "Around the squad as a whole, it's an opportunity then to get a taste for some younger guys who will be here in '18 and '19 and who we think will benefit from being in and around the squad and maybe getting game time.

"I think that's a pretty sound philosophy. We're looking at form - would that player be picked in the starting test team right now? - and decide from there."

Fardy's omission is seen as a shock amid a fine season with Brumbies in Super Rugby and Cheika admits it was difficult to leave the Leinster-bound lock out.

"There were a few [hard calls], definitely the established players like Fardy, Rob Horne, [Rob] Simmons, [Will] Skelton... they've given a lot and they were difficult decisions," Cheika said.

"Those guys are not out of the picture. I'll talk to the lads and explain some of my thoughts around that. There's no ruling anyone out [because they're going overseas next year]... it's just about getting the right balance."

The Wallabies welcome Fiji to Melbourne on June 10 before Scotland visit Sydney and Italy are tackled in Brisbane over the following weeks.


Australia squad: 

Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies), Rory Arnold (Brumbies), Adam Coleman (Western Force), Sam Carter (Brumbies) Jack Dempsey (Waratahs), Ned Hanigan (Waratahs), Richard Hardwick (Western Force), Scott Higginbotham (Queensland Reds), Michael Hooper (Waratahs), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Tolu Latu (Waratahs), Stephen Moore (Queensland Reds), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Western Force), Tom Robertson (Waratahs), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Toby Smith (Melbourne Rebels), Lopeti Timani (Melbourne Rebels), Lukhan Tui (Queensland Reds)

Backs: Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds), Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs), Bernard Foley (Waratahs), Will Genia (Stade Francais), Kyle Godwin (Brumbies), Dane Haylett-Petty (Western Force), Reece Hodge (Melbourne Rebels), Karmichael Hunt (Queensland Reds), Samu Kerevi (Queensland Reds), Marika Koroibete (Melbourne Rebels), Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies), Eto Nabuli (Queensland Reds), Sefa Naivalu (Melbourne Rebels), Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs), Joe Powell (Brumbies), Henry Speight (Brumbies)