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Rugby - Cheika names uncapped Petaia, Pocock in World Cup squad
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  • 22 Aug 19
  • RugbyUnion
  • 4
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - England v Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 24, 2018  Australia head coach Michael Cheika during the warm up before the match   Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/File Photo 691px 444px FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - England v Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 24, 2018 Australia head coach Michael Cheika during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia coach Michael Cheika has included uncapped teenage centre Jordan Petaia in his World Cup squad along with veteran David Pocock on Friday despite concerns over the loose forward's fitness ahead of the global showpiece in Japan.

Highly fancied Petaia is the only untested player in a seasoned squad captained by flanker Michael Hooper and boasting 1406 caps of test experience, 200 more than the roster for the 2015 tournament.

Pocock has not featured in Wallabies gold since a test against Italy last November and he barely played Super Rugby this year while struggling with a problematic calf injury.

The 31-year-old will have only one warmup before the World Cup, a farewell test against Samoa on Sept. 7, to prove his body is still up to the rigours of test rugby.

Cheika also included veteran back Adam Ashley-Cooper for his fourth World Cup, just the second Wallaby to do so after George Gregan.

He has taken a gamble by only including two scrumhalves in Nic White and Will Genia, but has included three hookers in Tolu Latu, Folau Fainga'a and young Melbourne Rebel Jordan Uelese.

Uelese beats out experienced hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, while lock Luke Jones, loose forwards Rob Valetini and Liam Wright and outside back Tom Banks also miss out after being named in the squad for the last two tests against New Zealand.

"We've become a really tight group and it was a very difficult process in picking only 31 players," Cheika said in a statement.

"But I know each player selected will travel to Japan with the full support of those team mates who won't board the flight.

"These next few weeks are about building and adding that little extra edge as a squad and we'll be working hard to make sure we deliver on the qualities we want people to see when we run out on the field in Japan."

Australia take on Fiji in their World Cup opener in Sapporo on Sept. 21 before their remaining Pool D matches against Wales, Uruguay and Georgia.

Squad:

Forwards - Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga'a, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese

Backs - Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, James O’Connor, Jordan Petaia, Matt Toomua, Nic White

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Additional reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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