Skyscraper second-rower Rory Arnold and fellow lock Dean Mumm have kept their prospects of making the Wallabies World Cup party alive by making the squad for their opening Rugby Championship match.
Measuring 208cm Arnold is the tallest Wallaby in over a century and only made his Super Rugby debut this year.
He is one of two uncapped players in the 31-man squad for the July 18 clash with South Africa in Brisbane.
The other newcomer, 23-year-old Fijian-born Waratahs winger Taqele Naiyaravoro is another imposing physical specimen at 194 centimetres and around Arnold’s weight of about 120 kilos.
Mumm wasn’t even on Wallaby coach Michael Cheika’s radar until the last couple of months, as he was playing for English club Exeter.
Three cameos off the Waratahs bench late in the Super Rugby season caught the eye of NSW mentor Cheika and could give Mumm the chance to add to the 33rd Wallabies cap he won in 2010.
France-based backs Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell also made the squad.
Among the players who didn’t survive the cut from the 40-man squad, which trained on the Sunshine Coast this week, were Brumbies halves Christian Leali’ifano and Nic White as well as Waratahs No.8 Wycliff Palu, who Cheika said would get a run later in the Rugby Championship.
“Christian Leali’ifano was a very difficult decision and Nic White as well, we’re just blessed with so many good playmakers,” Cheika said.
He said 25-year-old Arnold had done better than expected for someone with limited professional experience.
“He’s had a massive season with the Brumbies and playing the position he does it would take it’s toll,” Cheika said.
“But he’s really shown up physically. He’s adjusted to the level of player and he’s got a big frame which we think we need to invest a bit more in.”
“We’ve got James Horwill and himself and they’ve got to go to it this week to see who gets the nod for Saturday (week).
Cheika said Mumm fitted the profile of the tighter style of lock the selectors were looking at.
“He (Mumm) has taken a punt on coming back to (Australia) to try and get an opportunity,” Cheika said.
“I think that from what we’ve seen so far he’s proven his worth to take that opportunity and then it’s up to him from there.”
Mumm was grateful for the chance after admitting he saw no prospect as recently as six months ago of making the Wallaby squad.
“To make the mind up, to come back is a leap of faith a little bit and you’re thankful for any opportunity you get,” Mumm said.
Cheika said news lock Kane Douglas was looking to return home and cut short his time at Irish team Leinster was positive for Australian rugby.
“What happens from there is really up to him, I suppose and how that works out,” Cheika said.
“If he is back I’ll definitely be looking forward to him getting himself back fit and playing again.”
Wallabies Squad: Rory Arnold, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper, Scott Fardy, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Matt Giteau, Scott Higginbotham, Greg Holmes, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Tevita Kuridrani, Stephen Moore, Drew Mitchell, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Dean Mumm, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, James Slipper, Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane.