Wallabies name five newcomers in European tour squad

FIVE newcomers are included in the 31-man Australian squad for next month’s four-nation European tour, during which the Wallabies will face Ireland.

Flanker Leroy Houston, centre and winger Digby Ioane, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, outside-back Cameron Shepherd and lock Adam Wallace Harrison are in line to make their international debuts during the tour.

The Wallabies, to be led by captain and scrum-half George Gregan, face internationals against France in Marseille, England at Twickenham, Ireland in Dublin and Wales in Cardiff.

Three newcomers - Houston, Ioane and Polota-Nau - all played for Australian U-21s in Argentina this year and they did not play Super 12 provincial rugby.

Houston, who will turn 19 during the tour, will be the youngest member of the travelling squad.

Uncapped forwards Scott Fava, David Fitter and Greg Holmes were also named in the team, while centre Lloyd Johansson, flanker Rocky Elsom and back-rower Hugh McMeniman will undertake their first senior tour.

No 8 David Lyons, centre/winger Clyde Rathbone, centre Stirling Mortlock, hooker Jeremy Paul and prop Bill Young were among 14 players unavailable for selection due to injury, being rested or suspension.

Coach Eddie Jones said the new faces will bring enthusiasm to the team facing up to four tough tests in four weeks against the top four teams from this year’s Six Nations.

“We’ve selected eight players who are uncapped at test level and a further eight with less than 10 caps,” Jones said.

“We’ve said to all the guys they are not there to just develop on tour, they are there to get in the test 22. They have got the ability to do it, they are good young players with plenty of potential.”

While Jones said the tour would provide opportunities for the uncapped players, he stressed results rather than experimentation were still the priority for the Wallabies, who have lost their last five tests.

“It’s important we get results on the tour. Results lately haven’t been good,” Jones said.

“Results indicate we are not playing well enough and definitely we need to increase the depth and flexibility of our squad and we need to improve our team performance, and this tour is about improving team performance and these young guys have got a chance to add to that.”

The Wallabies will assemble in Sydney for a four-day camp, before heading to their training base in Coffs Harbour next week. The team leaves for France on October 26.

AUSTRALIA SQUAD: A Baxter, B Cannon, M Chisholm, M Dunning, R Elsom, S Fava, D Fitter, A Freier, M Gerrard, M Giteau, G Gregan (captain), M Henjak, G Holmes, L Houston, D Ioane, L Johansson, C Latham, H McMeniman, D Mitchell, T Polota-Nau, J Roe, M Rogers, W Sailor, N Sharpe, C Shepherd, G Smith, L Tuqiri, M Turinui, A Wallace-Harrison, P Waugh, C Whitaker.

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