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The Emirates Western Force trio of Nathan Sharpe, Nick Cummins and Brett Sheehan have been selected in the initial 30-man Wallaby squad ahead of the final Castrol EDGE Bledisloe Cup Test of the year next weekend.
The previously injured trio of No 8 Wycliff Palu, prop Sekope Kepu and winger Drew Mitchell all make welcome returns after being included in the Wallabies squad that will assemble in Brisbane tomorrow.
Palu most recently appeared for Australia at last year’s Rugby World Cup, being kept out of action this term due to a shoulder nerve injury. A wretched run of injuries has restricted the big No 8 to just two Tests – against Ireland and the United States last year – since the 2009 Grand Slam tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Kepu and Mitchell both featured earlier in the year before striking trouble during the early stages of the recently completed Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.
After appearing in two of the three Tests of the Castrol EDGE Wales Tour, as well as the Bledisloe Cup opener against New Zealand in Sydney, Kepu damaged his knee at training the following week, which ended his participation in the inaugural Rugby Championship.
Mitchell who, like Palu, has endured a difficult time with injuries through the last two years, managing just four Test appearances in that period; injured his ankle during his first Test of the season against New Zealand at Eden Park.
The return of the trio has been complimented by the availability of midfield back Adam Ashley-Cooper, after he was forced to miss last weekend’s courageous 25-19 win over Argentina at Rosario due to a concussion, which had been suffered a week earlier during the loss to South Africa at Pretoria.
Ashley-Cooper has since been cleared to return to active duty.
The reinforcements are a boost as the Wallabies prepare to take on the Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks next Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium.
The New Zealand side, which recently won the inaugural Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship, will cross the Tasman on Thursday seeking to maintain a 16-match unbeaten sequence which dates back to its visit to Brisbane last year.
Suncorp Stadium was the scene of the All Blacks’ most recent defeat, with Australia’s 25-20 success landing the Wallabies the Tri Nations title for the first time in 10-years in the last of the three-way series to be played.
The 30-man Wallabies squad for the Castrol EDGE Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday October 20 is: Mike Harris (Queensland Reds), Nick Cummins (Emirates Western Force), Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs), Dominic Shipperley (Queensland Reds), Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds), Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Ben Tapuai (Queensland Reds), Anthony Fainga’a (Queensland Reds), Pat McCabe (Brumbies), Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels), Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels), Brett Sheehan (Emirates Western Force), Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs), Radike Samo (Queensland Reds), Scott Higginbotham (Queensland Reds), Michael Hooper (Brumbies), Liam Gill (Queensland Reds), Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs), Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs), Nathan Sharpe (captain, Emirates Western Force), Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs), Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), Paddy Ryan (NSW Waratahs), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), James Hanson (Queensland Reds), Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds), Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs).