Force, Waratahs Wallabies hopefuls gather

A 15-strong squad of players from the NSW Waratahs and the Western Force will train together this week, with Wallabies squad spots up for grabs.

MICHAEL HOOPER of the Wallabies.
MICHAEL HOOPER of the Wallabies. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Western Force trio Kyle Godwin, Feleti Kaitu'u and Brynard Stander have been asked to remain in Sydney and join a host of NSW Waratahs players vying for a Wallabies berth later this year.

A players of national interest (PONI) squad will this week train at the Waratahs' Daceyville base under new national team coach Dave Rennie's assistant Scott Wisemantel and fitness guru John Pryor.

Incumbent Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and 11 other Waratahs, including next-generation talents James Ramm and Angus Bell, have been included.

Others will join from whichever team loses Saturday's Super Rugby AU preliminary final between the Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels.

All players in camp will operate under the same biosecurity measures they've followed during the season, with the Force trio unable to return home without facing more quarantine time.

The Wallabies' official Rugby Championship squad will be 46-strong, given nobody can join their bubble once the tournament begins.

While there is confidence the Wallabies will host two Tests against New Zealand in October, the likelihood of a Rugby Championship in New Zealand in November is more dim.

Rugby Australia expects SANZAAR to make a call on November's Rugby Championship by Friday, with Argentina's squad in hard lock down after six positive coronavirus cases last week.

The two Bledisloe Cup Tests could be the national side's only action this year, although would be rescheduled if Australia is preferred over New Zealand to host a salvaged Rugby Championship.

Meanwhile, Gold Coast-based Rennie will keep a close eye on Saturday's playoff in Brisbane, where the Reds boast an array of young talents pushing for Test caps.

Back-row trio Liam Wright, Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight were effective in their win against the Brumbies, who will await the winner of the Reds and Rebels in the final.

Emerging fullback Jock Campbell was electric again in his favoured position, while incumbent Wallabies halfback Nic White waged war with up-and-coming Reds No.9 Tate McDermott.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar set the scene for a potential rematch post-game, challenging officials to have a closer eye on Reds prop Taniela Tupou's scrum tactics.

PONI SQUAD: Angus Bell, Jack Dempsey, Tom Horton, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Lachie Swinton, Michael Hooper, Jake Gordon, Will Harrison, Jack Maddocks, James Ramm (Waratahs); Kyle Godwin, Feleti Kaitu'u, Brynard Stander (Force).