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Hoiles gets axed from Wallabies squad

08/07/2008 09:29:59 AM Comments (0)

While Timana Tahu was basking in his Wallabies call-up after just eight starting appearances in rugby, Stephen Hoiles was surprisingly banished from the 30-man Test squad altogether on Tuesday for this year's Tri-Nations tournament.

The talented Hoiles, who played all 12 Tests for Australia in 2008, started at No.8 in the Wallabies' record 40-10 romp against France in Brisbane on Saturday night.

But the 26-year-old was the highest-profile casualty when coach Robbie Deans announced his squad for the eight-match series with New Zealand and South Africa.

Deans, though, said it was far from the end of the road for Hoiles, whose perceived specialist play at the back of the scrum counted against him in the selection room.

"We tend to look at the total mix and we've got other players coming on line, coming available to us again, players like (Dan) Vickerman and (Hugh) McMeniman," Deans said.

"I've got every confidence and belief that `Hoilesy' can play at this level again because he has a unique skill set.

"He's probably one of the best link players that we have, so it would be great to see him get back.

"He's capable of that and obviously we'll be working with him and hoping that he does because the greater the depth we have available to us the better."

Wallabies rookie Richard Brown got the nod over Hoiles as Australia's second-choice No.8 behind Wycliff Palu.

"What Browny offers us obviously is a versatility from seven (openside flanker) to eight," Deans said.

"He's essentially a specialist eight insofar as he played a full Super rugby season in that position, and he's a bloke who has a great appetite for work and offers us that versatility within a mix."

The other three omissions who made the season's first 30-man Wallabies squad for the Tests against France and Ireland were utility forward Mark Chisholm, winger Digby Ioane and fullback Cameron Shepherd, who underwent surgery on Tuesday for a broken leg which will sideline him for the entire tournament.

"The news isn't great for him," Deans said.

"It's a serious injury but it's one which he'll recover from in time and hopefully he'll look back in time and see it as just a blip in time.

"He'll be back and he's been over that sort of setback in the past."

Other than Tahu, the others to earn promotions from the Australia A squad were fullback-winger Drew Mitchell and lock or back-rower Hugh McMeniman in the squad, while Vickerman was picked for a comeback following ankle surgery.

McMeniman's selection comes after his rare weekend double of playing for both the Wallabies and Australia A.

"What a great weekend for any man - to represent Australia twice on one weekend," Deans said.

"And (he) loved every minute of it. He's got a great enthusiasm for the game and he offers us something we're pretty excited about.

"His physicality, just his willingness. And he's also another versatile player - middle row, six. In fact, he can play anywhere."

Deans said centre Berrick Barnes (shoulder), lock James Horwill (eye), hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (hand) and Palu (shoulder) were all recovering well enough to be in the mix for Australia's tournament opener against South Africa in Perth on Saturday week.

About "half the squad" are expected to be asked to play club rugby this weekend in keeping with Deans' plans to maintain the Wallabies' match fitness.

Wallabies Tri-Nations squad:-

Backs: Adam Ashley Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Luke Burgess, Sam Cordingley, Ryan Cross, Matt Giteau, Peter Hynes, Drew Mitchell, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Brett Sheehan, Timana Tahu, Lote Tuqiri, Lachlan Turner.

Forwards: Ben Alexander, Al Baxter, Richard Brown, Matt Dunning, Rocky Elsom, Adam Freier, James Horwill, Hugh McMeniman, Dean Mumm, Stephen Moore, Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, George Smith, Phil Waugh, Dan Vickerman.

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