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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

Wallabies back youth to take on world in France

Wallabies head coach Eddie has backed young players to spearhead Australia’s campaign to win its third Rugby World Cup which kicks off in France next month.

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Eddie Jones has named 18 forwards, 13 backs and two utility players in the group with 25 men set to feature in their first Rugby World Cup.

Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones said: “”It’s a young squad, it’s an exciting squad and it will be a successful squad. We are making good progress. Our challenge is to continue to improve. To get a little bit better every day in everything we do on and off the field. As I’ve said since I took over, in Australian rugby we have the talent, but we don’t yet have the team. That’s still the case. But we are getting there and I’m backing that we will surprise a few people.”

“Rugby World Cup is a tournament, and tournament rugby is different to competition rugby. Look at the Women’s Football World Cup. Favourites get beaten. Upsets happen. It’s all part of the challenge. All the teams start from the same place.  We all get the same opportunity. The team that improves the most is generally the team that will win it and that’s the task we have set ourselves. We have been improving and we will continue to improve.

“I’ve backed the young blokes because they earned it. Simple as that. I haven’t handed it to them. They grabbed it. It’s exciting for me to go to work each day with these guys who are just busting to improve, to learn and to get better. They want to succeed, and they will succeed and that excitement is rubbing off on everyone. We’re in a good place.

“The experts have written us off. No one believes we can do it, but we believe. The coaches believe, the players believe and that’s all that matters.

“Being part of a team that gets the opportunity to compete at a World Cup is a rare privilege. Look at the fun the Matildas are having and the joy they are creating. Look at the way the country is rallying around them. This is what we want to do.  We want to build that same type of excitement. That same kind of expectation and the way we will do it is by everyone in the squad giving their best effort every day. We can’t wait.”

Eight years after being selected in his first Rugby World Cup squad, Will Skelton will captain the side in France, named to lead the side with Sunshine Coast junior Tate McDermott as vice-captain.

Jones has selected three uncapped players, in Port Douglas junior Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 18-year-old Max Jorgensen and NSW South Coast product Blake Schoupp.  Jorgensen would be the youngest ever Australian to debut at a Rugby World Cup if named to play in any game at the tournament.

After making his Test debut as a 19-year-old in the 2019 tournament in Japan, Jordan Petaia has been selected for his second Rugby World Cup, as has Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese and Nic White.

The group has an average age of 26 and an average of 20 Tests per player, the lowest of an Australian Rugby World Cup squad since the 1991 edition of the tournament.

The squad was announced at the Darwin Waterfront this afternoon following a Saltwater Welcome Ceremony from Larrakia elder Richard Fejo.

The Wallabies to hold a four-day camp in the Northern Territory beginning today, travelling to Sydney on Monday before flying to Paris on Thursday.

2023 Rugby World Cup Squad (age, professional club, junior club, Tests)

Props (6)
Angus Bell (22, NSW Waratahs, Hunters Hill Rugby Club, 23 Tests)*
Pone Fa’amausili (26, Melbourne Rebels, Moorabbin Rams, 5 Tests) *
Zane Nonggorr (22, Queensland Reds, Gold Coast Eagles, 2 Tests)*
Blake Schoupp (23, ACT Brumbies, Woonona Shamrocks, uncapped)*
James Slipper (34, ACT Brumbies, Bond Pirates, 131 Tests)
Taniela Tupou (27, Queensland Reds, Brothers Rugby Club, 48 Tests)

Hookers (3)
Matt Faessler (24, Queensland Reds, USQ Saints, 1 Test)*
David Porecki (30, NSW Waratahs, Seaforth Raiders, 14 Tests)*
Jordan Uelese (26, Melbourne Rebels, Eltham Rugby Club, 18 Tests)

Locks (4)
Richie Arnold (33, Stade Toulousain, Gentlemen of Murwillumbah, 4 Tests)*
Nick Frost (23, ACT Brumbies, Hornsby Lions, 12 Tests) *
Matt Philip (29, Melbourne Rebels, Newport Juniors, 28 Tests)*
Will Skelton (c) (31, La Rochelle, Wentworthville Magpies, 28 Tests)

Back Row (5)
Langi Gleeson (22, NSW Waratahs, Harbord Harlequins, 3 Tests)*
Tom Hooper (22, ACT Brumbies, Bathurst Bulldogs, 3 Tests)*
Rob Leota (26, Melbourne Rebels, Northern Panthers, 16 Tests)*
Fraser McReight (24, Queensland Reds, Albany Creek Brumbies, 12 Tests)*
Rob Valetini (24, ACT Brumbies, Melbourne Harlequins, 34 Tests)*

Scrumhalves (3)
Issak Fines-Leleiwasa (27, Western Force, Port Douglas Reef Raiders, uncapped)*
Tate McDermott (vc) (24, Queensland Reds, Flinders Rugby Club, 25 Tests)*
Nic White (33, ACT Brumbies, Muswellbrook Healers, 63 Tests)

Flyhalves (1)
Carter Gordon (22, Melbourne Rebels, Sunshine Coast Grammar School, 4 Tests)*

Centres (4)
Lalakai Foketi (28, NSW Waratahs, Manly Roos, 5 Tests)*
Samu Kerevi (29, Urayasu D-Rocks, Souths Magpies, 45 Tests)
Izaia Perese (26, NSW Waratahs, Easts Tigers, 5 Tests)*
Jordan Petaia (23, Queensland Reds, Wests Rugby Club, 27 Tests)

Outside Backs (5)
Max Jorgensen (18, NSW Waratahs, Balmain Wolves, uncapped)*
Andrew Kellaway (27, Melbourne Rebels, Hunters Hill Rugby Club, 23 Tests)*
Marika Koroibete (31, Saitama Wild Knights, Nasinu Secondary School, 55 Tests)
Mark Nawaqanitawase (22, NSW Waratahs, Wests Juniors, 6 Tests)*
Suliasi Vunivalu (27, Queensland Reds, Saint Kentigern College, 2 Tests)*

Utility (2)
Ben Donaldson (23, NSW Waratahs, Clovelly Eagles, 2 Tests)*
Josh Kemeny (24, Melbourne Rebels, Easts Rugby Club, 1 Test)*
*denotes first Rugby World Cup

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