Stirzaker poised for Wallabies debut

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Sydney University Football Club halfback Nic Stirzaker is poised to make his Wallabies debut against France at Stade de France in Paris on Sunday morning (7am, AEST).

The 24-year-old economics student has been invited to join the Wallabies squad for the France Test and a game against a French Barbarians XV in Bordeaux on Thursday.

And, with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika hinting that he might use some new faces, Stirzaker is well in the mix. As are two other SUFC representatives in prop Paddy Ryan and second-rower Sam Carter.

The three have been part of a Barbarians squad, coached by Robbie Deans, on a three-match trip in Europe, with a draw against South Africa and wins over the Czech Republic in Prague and Fiji in Belfast. Stirzaker played in the games in Prague and Belfast.

 “We had always planned to bring in these players for the France week after the (seven) lads wrapped up with the Barbarians,” Wallabies coach Cheika said.

“Five of the players have Test experience for the Wallabies and while it’s good to bolster our numbers ahead of the Wallaby XV game against the French Barbarians, we may consider them for selection against France this weekend.”

Ryan already has three caps to his credit, while Carter looks to add his 13th Wallabies cap.

Stirzaker has committed to Australian rugby and a dream of playing for the Wallabies, although he could have pushed for England or Springbok selection having been born in London of South African parents.

He came to Australia as a two-year-old and learnt is rugby a Knox Grammar School and Sydney University where he worked his way through Colts.

He was a member of the Melbourne Rebels extended playing squad in 2012 and signed a contract extension with the franchise in 2014.

Stirzaker was captain of the Melbourne Rising team which won the 2014 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship minor premiership and has been the club’s representative on the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) board for two years.

He stood in as acting-captain of the Rebels in 2015 and was made fulltime captain in 2016, when he kept former Australian and Sydney University halfback Luke Burgess on the bench.

Another Sydney University halfback, Nick Phipps, might keep him on the bench for the French Test.

Phipps and SUFC teammates Bernard Foley, Israel Folau, Dean Mumm, Will Skelton, Tolu Latu and Tom Robertson are part of the Wallabies Spring Tour squad.

They have all played roles in Australia’s wins over Wales and Scotland, with Tests against Ireland and England – after the French Test – to push for a Grand Slam.