Michael Cheika has named his Australia squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship

Australia Rugby Championship Squad

Michael Cheika has named his starting lineup for Australia’s first Rugby Championship matchup against New Zealand.

Tom Robertson has come into the starting lineup after Scott Sio suffered a shoulder injury. Allan Alaalatoa comes back from injury to take up a spot on the bench and Michael Hooper also returns after a hamstring had seen him out for almost two months.

Matt Toomua has been named on the bench and is set to make his first appearance for Australia since 2016.

Australia team to face New Zealand in the Rugby Championship – Saturday 18th August 

Robertson, Polota-Nau, Kepu, Rodda, Coleman, Tui, Hooper, Pocock, Genia, Foley, Koroibete, Beale, Hodge, Haylett-Petty, Folau

Replacements: Latu, Alaalatoa, Tupou, Simmons, Samu, Phipps , Toomua, Maddocks

Fresh off the back of a narrow series loss to Ireland, Australia head into the 2018 Rugby Championship thoroughly tested and battle hardened. The series with Ireland was incredibly close, with both sides scoring 55 points across the three Tests.

Despite the series defeat, Australia head into the Rugby Championship well prepared and Michael Cheika has recently named his full training squad for the tournament, where they face the All Blacks back-to-back in their first two games.

Creative stars like Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley and Will Genia are all involved while Taniela Tupou is one to watch in the front row. Michael Hooper and David Pocock will once again team up in the back row.

Tatafu Polota-Nau, based in England with Leicester Tigers, has been selected as a result of the ‘Giteau rule’, which provides exemption for players not playing at home in Australia. Polota-Nau has the required minimum of 60 caps and will bring some much-needed experience to the side.

Return: Polota-Nau playing for the Wallabies in 2017 (Getty Images)

The inclusion of Matt Toomua is also noteworthy. He, too, is based with Leicester, but does not reach the 60-cap mark. However, he will leave the Tigers for Melbourne Rebels at the end of the season and has thus been selected.

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Midfield regulars Tevita Kuridrani and Samuel Kerevi have been ruled out by injury and Cheika has selected six uncapped players in the squad.

They are Jermaine Ainsley, Folau Faingaa, Tom Banks, Jack Maddocks, Billy Meakes and Jordan Petaia.

Australia Rugby Championship Squad

Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Folau Faingaa, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Pete Samu, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou.

Backs: Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Billy Meakes, Sefa Naivalu, Jordan Petaia, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Curtis Rona, Matt Toomua.

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