Cheika cuts six from Wallabies squad

Date published: June 3 2016

SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - MAY 30:  Reece Hodge poses during an Australian Wallabies portrait session on May 30, 2016 in Sunshine Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has confirmed that six players have been released from the squad for their three-Test series with England.

Rebels utility back Reece Hodge is the surprise inclusion in the 33-man squad after being added to the squad in place of the injured Mike Harris earlier this week.

James Hanson, Adam Coleman, Liam Gill, Eto Nabuli, Joe Powell and Leroy Houston are the players left out from Cheika’s initial squad.

Hodge impressed Cheika and his versatility has been a handy weapon at least in training, without Harris or Christian Lealiifano in camp.

“Reece has really impressed me this week after being thrown into the deep end,” said Cheika.

“It’s not just about being in the environment for him now and I know he’ll be pushing for selection in the match day 23.”

The 21-year-old is the only real bolter included in Cheika’s trimmed down 33-man squad, as the team heads to Brisbane.

Karmichael Hunt will also have the chance to push for a spot, included in the 13 backs to head south from the Sunshine Coast.

Former captain James Horwill is still in the running to return to Test rugby, after cutting short his honeymoon to join Wallabies camp last week.

With Sekope Kepu on Friday signalling his intent to return to Super Rugby and Taqele Naiyaravoro announcing a move last week, Horwill is the only overseas-based player in the squad.

Powell and Houston were two of Cheika’s most left-field selections in the initial 39-man squad and the latter will now return to the Queensland Reds.

Powell’s departure means that the Wallabies halfback spots for England are all but secured with Nick Phipps and Nick Frisby the only two nines in the squad.

Gill would be unlikely to add to his Test tally now, with an impending move to France.

Wallabies squad

Forwards: Alan Alaalatoa (Brumbies), Rory Arnold (Brumbies), Sam Carter (Brumbies), Scott Fardy (Brumbies), Greg Holmes (Reds), Michael Hooper (Waratahs), James Horwill (Harlequins), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Ben McCalman (Western Force), Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Dean Mumm (Waratahs), Wycliff Palu (Waratahs), David Pocock (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs), Rob Simmons (Reds), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Will Skelton (Waratahs), James Slipper (Reds), Toby Smith (Melbourne Rebels)

Backs: Israel Folau (Waratahs), Bernard Foley (Waratahs), Nick Frisby (Reds), Dane Haylett-Petty (Force), Reece Hodge (Melbourne Rebels), Rob Horne (Waratahs), Karmichael Hunt (Reds), Samu Kerevi (Reds), Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies), Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies), Luke Morahan (Western Force), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs), Nick Phipps (Waratahs)

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