Winners and losers from Eddie Jones’ stunning 33-man Wallabies Rugby World Cup squad

Jared Wright
Wallabies Rugby World Cup squad Max Jorgensen, captain Will Skelton, Australia boss Eddie Jones, Michael Hooper, Quade Cooper and Len Ikitau

Our winners and losers from the inclusions and omissions from the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup squad.

Eddie Jones has named the youngest Wallabies squad for the Rugby World Cup since 1991, with Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper missing out.

Jones also threw in the surprise choice of Will Skelton as captain of the side, with three uncapped players also featuring.

Here are our winners and losers from the squad selection.


Will Skelton

The squad is jampacked with winners as Jones backs youth, but there aren’t any bigger winners than new captain Skelton.

The second-rower was a surprise choice for the captaincy but a role he may well thrive in.

Skelton’s journey to captaining his country is one of hard work and determination. He left the Waratahs in 2017 after failing to become a regular member of the Wallabies squad.

At Saracens, he shed his extra weight and has since become one of the best locks in world rugby, taking his game up a few notches since his move to La Rochelle.

Suliasi Vunivalu

The winger had a torrid Test debut against the Springboks in round one of the Rugby Championship and has not played for the Wallabies since.

However, Jones clearly sees something in the rapid ex-league star and has backed him to star at the Rugby World Cup.

Few fans and pundits would have had Suliasi Vunivalu in their World Cup squad, but his inclusion is far from the only surprise Jones has sprung.

Max Jorgensen

Staying with the outside backs and rookie Waratahs winger Max Jorgensen is one of three uncapped players in Jones’ squad.

The speedster shot into the spotlight during the Super Rugby Pacific season, scoring and assisting four tries.

The 18-year-old is currently not fully fit to make his Test debut but could well do so in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up or at the tournament itself.

His raw talent and potential are clear to see, but it is still a gamble from the Wallabies boss to select the untested winger/full-back in France.

Langi Gleeson

Another player with a potentially high ceiling, Langi Gleeson has played just three Test matches for Australia, but the hard-hitting, bruising back-rower cracks the final 33.

Like Jorgensen, Gleeson’s talent is clear to see, but one has to wonder if the experience and versatility of Pete Samu or Jed Hollaway would have been better picks.

Carter Gordon

What a whirlwind few months it has been for Melbourne Rebels playmaker Carter Gordon, who made his Test debut off the bench against the Springboks at Loftus Versveld.

He scored a magnificent try against the defending world champions and backed that up with a tidy shift out of position against the Pumas after Len Ikitau’s injury.

He has started the Wallabies’ last two Test matches at fly-half and has now been named as the only out-and-out 10 for the Rugby World Cup, ousting Quade Cooper from the squad.

There will be a lot of pressure on the 22-year-old’s shoulder during the tournament, but he hasn’t backed down from a challenge yet.

Uncapped bolters

We have already spoken about uncapped Waratah Jorgensen, but Jones has two further rookies in his squad.

Brumbies prop Blake Schoupp gets the nod as one of the looseheads in the squad. Jones dubbed the youngster a “brick s**thouse” and spoke highly of the prop in April this year.

Schoupp’s journey has been a special one, too, as just last year, he did not have a professional contract with a Super Rugby side and was training nights while teaching during the day.

Joining him in the squad is a real Rugby World Cup bolter in scrum-half Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.

The uncapped Western Force number nine did not feature in the Rugby Championship or the Bledisloe Cup squads and has spent that time playing club rugby.

His call-up was certainly out of the blue but not undeserved. The energetic and pacey back is capable of playing wing for Australia and his preferred position, scrum-half.

During his Super Rugby career for the Brumbies and Force, he has become renowned for his game-breaking ability and influence. He can certainly open up a match in the latter stages and could be a key player against the likes of Portugal, Fiji and Georgia.

Ben Donaldson

Ben Donaldson has not played for the Wallabies since his second Test cap against Italy last year when he missed the match-winning conversion.

Listed as a ‘utility’ player in the squad, Donaldson will back up Gordon as a fly-half and at full-back.

He has been unable to push his way into the squad in the first four Tests of the year but has seemingly impressed Jones enough in training to be picked ahead of Cooper.

Tom Hooper

The one Hooper that does make the squad, Tom, has taken his opportunities this year with both hands.

The bruising back-rower was superb against the All Blacks and thoroughly deserves his opportunity to strut his stuff on the biggest stage.


Allan Alaalatoa

Injuries are the cruel part of the sport, and Allan Alaalatoa knows that better than most.

His Rugby World Cup hopes were dashed in the first Bledisloe Cup Test match of the year. The tighthead prop has been a cornerstone of the Wallabies pack since his debut in 2016 and a leader in the pack.

Unfortunately, Alaalatoa won’t be trotting out for Australia in France.

Michael Hooper

Another Wallabies captain who is missing the World Cup.

Michael Hooper’s absence is a massive blow for the player and the Wallabies himself.

The flanker has played 86 per cent of Australia’s Test matches since his debut back in 2012, missing just 21 Tests over his 11-year international career.

He has been an incredible servant for Australian Rugby and deserved a blockbuster send-off. Instead, he looks to be going out on a low, sombre note.

Hooper has hinted that he will be hanging up his Test boots after the World Cup, and it’s a real shame that injury has seemingly ended his international career.

Quade Cooper

Veteran fly-half Cooper looked like a nailed-on Rugby World Cup selection when he made such a splash on his return to Test rugby in 2021.

However, it was not to be as Jones has decided against the gamble of the 35-year-old pivot, who hasn’t been at his best following his long-term injury layoff.

Cooper has had his fair share of setbacks throughout his career, but this one will hurt.

Pete Samu

A crucial member of the Wallabies this entire World Cup cycle, but Samu was dropped from the squad after the loss to the Springboks and was not seen again.

It’s a cruel blow for the back-rower and a puzzling decision with his ability to play on the side of the scrum and the back.

Jones has spoken about getting a more physical and abrasive squad, one of Samu’s biggest attributes, making his omission even more mind-bending.

Len Ikitau

Another player was cruelly ruled out of the World Cup through injury. In recent seasons, Ikitau has been outstanding for the Wallabies at outside centre and quickly established himself as one of the best number 13s in the game.

With his opportunity to further his claim as one of the best at 13 at the World Cup, Ikitau’s dream was crushed when he dived over in the corner against Argentina – injuring his shoulder to end his hopes of appearing at the tournament.

Tom Wright

Unfortunately, Tom Wright effectively played himself out of the Rugby World Cup.

He was handed the starting full-back jersey against South Africa and Argentina, but unfortunately, his performances were below-par and cost him a place in the squad.

That all came off the back of a solid season with the Brumbies, which also ended on a poor note in the playoffs.

Reece Hodge

There are so many reasons to include Reece Hodge in a Rugby World Cup squad.

He has a massive boot and is able to knock over penalties from his own 10-metre line, and he has the versatility to play fly-half, centre, wing and full-back.

However, despite all those positives, he is surplus to requirements for Jones and misses the squad.

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