Seven in Wallabies squad for Rugby Championships

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Sydney University Football Club will provide seven players in the 32-man squad announced today to contest the 2014 Rugby Championship, which incorporates the Bledisloe Cup.

Hooker Nathan Charles, second-rower Sam Carter, backrower Ben McCalman, halfbacks Luke Burgess and Nick Phipps, five-eighth Bernard Foley and fullback Israel Folau were named in the squad announced today by Wallabies coach Ewan McKenzie. The team will be captained by flanker Michael Hooper.

Sydney University flanker Dave Dennis, the NSW Waratahs captain, was one of the unlucky players not considered after injuring his knee during the recent three-Test series against France.

Leviathan Sydney University second-rower Will Skelton, who made one of the finest Wallaby debuts for many years when he helped Australia to a 39-13 win over France in the recent Third Test in Sydney, must have been close to selection.

The Test was just 10 minutes old when the 203cm Skelton used his 140kg frame to literally carry two French defenders over the line to score Australia’s first try. And early in the second half he delivered a deft, soft pass to rampaging fullback Israel Folau, who streaked away to score under the posts.

Australian will open the Championship series on Saturday, August 16 with a tilt against the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, and follow up the following Saturday with another crack at the All Blacks at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday, August 23. The Bledisloe Cup could well be decided in those two encounters.

The Wallabies will then meet the Springboks at Petersons Stadium, Perth, on September 6; Argentina at Cbus Stadium, Gold Coast, on September 13; the Springboks at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, on September 27; Argentina, in Argentina on October 4; and finish off with the Third Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, on October 18.

Charles and Carter made their Test debuts in the recent clean-sweep of France, which took the Wallabies to seven wins on the trot.

“We’ve come a long way as a group over the past 12 months and the consistency we’re now applying across selections, high-performance behaviours and our playing style is a positive sign that we are heading in the right direction,” coach McKenzie said. “The challenge for us now is to continue this consistency throughout Rugby Championship, beginning with a Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand.

“We understand a great deal of attention going into the match will be around the All Blacks and their motivation to create a new piece of history by winning a world-record 18 consecutive games.

“For us, it’s no secret that our desire to win back the Bledisloe Cup grows every year, but if our attention isn’t focused on the right areas during our preparations then it will be easy to get caught looking too far ahead.

“We recognise that and will have a clear understanding of how we are going to approach and prepare for the opening game.”

Meanwhile, SUFC has provided two of the 20 Sydney University athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Ed Jenkins and Greg Jeloudev were named in the Sevens rugby squad. Jenkins, a former SUSF sports scholarship holder on the Elite Athlete Program (EAP) was named captain of the 12-man Sevens squad, who will be aiming to go one better than the 2010 team that won silver at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Jeloudev is a current EAP member and both are members of Sydney University Football Club, who progressed through the Colts program.

SUFC also provided four representatives in the Australian Under 20 side came from behind to defeat France 34-27 to claim fifth place at the IRB Junior World Rugby Championship in Auckland in June.

Australia ran in five tries to France’s three to secure the win over the Junior Six Nations Champions. During the month-long tournament Australia beat Argentina, Italy, Samoa and France, with their only loss being to tournament finalists England.

SUFC’s four representatives in the 28-man squad were tighthead prop Tom Robertson, halfback Angus Pulver, five-eighth Johnny Vaux and centre Jim Stuart. The four are all Sydney University Colts and all shared valuable game time.