George Gregan will remain on as captain for Australia’s European tour in November, which includes a Lansdowne Road date with Ireland.
Australian skipper George Gregan
George Gregan wil remain on as captain for Australia’s November tour of Europe, which includes a Lansdowne Road date with Ireland.
The long-serving scrum-half, who boasts a world record-equalling 114 Test caps, had been widely criticised as his relatively poor form culminated in Australia finishing bottom of the Tri-Nations table. The Wallabies’ 34-24 loss to the champion All Blacks, earlier this month, was their fifth successive defeat.
But the 32-year-old, who has played seven times against Ireland, was backed by coach Eddie Jones today as he revealed the makings of a 45-man training squad, which includes nine new caps, for their end-of-season tour.
Jones confirmed: “We looked at George’s form as you do with every player’s form at the end of the season, but he’ll go on tour as captain.”
Gregan has captained his country 46 times.
Jones’ travelling 30-man squad will be selected on October 10, but it will be missing some notable players. Fly-halves Steve Larkham and Elton Flatley and locks Dan Vickerman, Daniel Heenan and Radike Samo are all unavailable due to injury.
“We’ve selected a squad of 45 because there are still a number of players we want to have a look at medically and physically, before finalising a group for the tour,” Jones added.
“The aim of this tour is to win the four Tests but we’ve got to keep on developing the team.
“What we need is competition for places so when we name the final squad there could be some established players left out.
“Everything we do now is about two things – trying to win every game and developing a programme leading towards the 2007 World Cup.”
Australia start their tour with a Test against France in Marseille (November 5), before taking on England (Twickenham, November 12), Ireland (Lansdowne Road, November 19, kick-off 2.30pm) and Six Nations champions Wales at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on November 26.
Australia Training Squad: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Al Baxter, Alister Campbell, Brendan Cannon, Mark Chisholm, David Croft, Scott Daruda, Matt Dunning, Rocky Elsom, Scott Fava, David Fitter, Adam Freier, Mark Gerrard, Matt Giteau, George Gregan (Capt), Nic Henderson, Matt Henjak, Greg Holmes, Leroy Houston, Digby Ioane, Lloyd Johansson, Alex Kanaar, Chris Latham, David Lyons, Lachlan MacKay, Hugh McMeniman, Drew Mitchell, Stephen Moore, Stirling Mortlock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jeremy Paul, Clyde Rathbone, John Roe, Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor, Nathan Sharpe, Brett Sheehan, Cameron Shepherd, George Smith, Ben Tune, Lote Tuqiri, Morgan Turinui, Phil Waugh, Chris Whitaker, Bill Young.