SYDNEY, Sept 13 (Reuters) - New Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has started his rebuild for the 2023 Rugby World Cup by naming 16 uncapped players to his first squad on Sunday for Bledisloe Cup tests against New Zealand and the Rugby Championship later this year.
Rennie also did not name a captain, although Michael Hooper, who has led the side 46 times since 2014, was predictably named in the extended 44-man squad.
“We’ve picked this squad on form and on potential and I know the whole group are chomping at the bit to get stuck in and push their case for a Wallaby jersey,” Rennie said in a statement.
“When we picked the squad, we had to consider how we will handle the rigours of the test calendar ahead.
“It is obviously a big squad which is due to COVID restrictions as we can’t bring players in and out but each of one them is there on merit.”
Matt To’omua, Jordan Petaia, Dane Haylett-Petty and Jordan Uelese, who all suffered injuries in Saturday’s Super Rugby AU elimination final, were named in the squad.
The Wallabies have struggled since they made the 2015 World Cup final, dropping to seventh in the World Rugby rankings, and were knocked out in the quarter-finals at last year’s World Cup in Japan.
They also have not held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy with New Zealand, since 2003.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Kim Coghill
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