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Queensland Rugby continues to boast the highest Wallaby representation among all Australian provinces after 12 St.George Queensland Reds players were chosen in Australia’s 30-man squad for the inaugural Rugby Championship.
The double-digit representation reinforces Queensland Rugby’s status as Australia’s leading producer of elite Wallaby talent with the current group of Reds featuring a strong combination of both seasoned veterans and newcomers.
Standout Super Rugby campaigns for young Reds backrowers Liam Gill and Jake Schatz have been rewarded by national selectors with the pair in line to become Queensland’s newest Wallaby caps.
Reds and Tri Nations-winning Wallabies captain James Horwill remains unavailable for selection after injuring his hamstring in May.
The 12 St.George Queensland Reds representatives are: Quade Cooper, Anthony Faingaa, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Mike Harris, Scott Higginbotham, Digby Ioane, Radike Samo, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons and James Slipper.
Gill and Schatz will have the chance to wear Wallaby gold during the upcoming Rugby Championships, where Australia will commence their campaign with two crucial Bledisloe Cup encounters against the World Cup champion All Blacks.
Despite only turning 20 in June, Gill flourished as Queensland’s best breakdown scavenger, finishing the 2012 Super Rugby season with a competition-high 33 turnovers, including 26 breakdown or tackle steals. According to Fair Play’s Rugby Analyser statistics, Gill was the only Australian to average more than 2 breakdown or tackle steals per game (2.4).
By comparison, Gill’s Wallabies teammate David Pocock ended the season with 21 breakdown or tackle steals in an extra 245 minutes of Rugby, while Michael Hooper secured 17 breakdown or tackle steals in almost 190 minutes extra of Rugby.
Gill was unavailable for Wallaby selection during the June Test window as the Brisbane-born talent was given the honour of captaining the Australian Under 20s at the Junior World Championships in South Africa, in his third campaign.
Gill continued his excellent form in the concluding stages of the Reds season where he and Schatz solidified their starting roles in the backrow.
Schatz, 22, enjoyed a breakthrough 2012 campaign where he featured in all but one of the Reds 17 games and excelled at both blindside flanker and No.8.
Schatz was among the Reds best as they made their successful late season push into the finals and is now one of four Reds backrowers chosen in Australia’s 30-man squad, joining Gill, Radike Samo and Scott Higginbotham.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for the Queensland Reds to make up almost half of the Wallabies squad and to again have the highest representation out of all five Australian provinces,” coach Ewen McKenzie said.
“We have a proven track record of turning Super Rugby players into Wallabies and that’s one of the main reasons we have the vast majority of players choosing to remain in our Rugby program.
“Our organisation offers the players an environment in which they can excel while the players have been extremely diligent in putting in the hard work necessary to reach the next level.
“Liam and Jake have come through our development pathways and have been involved in our system since they were teenagers, so it’s particularly pleasing to watch their development into Wallaby talent.
“They have performed above and beyond all expectations and I’m confident they would bring similar skill and impact to the Test arena if called upon this year.
“The performances of some of our more experienced guys like Quade, Will and Digby will be equally interesting during the Rugby Championship. They are all building an impressive tally of international caps and each bring enormous x-factor to any team they are involved in.
“I’m sure their involvement will be critical to the success the Wallabies enjoy during the Rugby Championship, and later in the year.”
Australia’s 30-man squad assembles in Sydney on Tuesday ahead of their opening Rugby Championship clash on Saturday 18 August against New Zealand in Sydney.
The Rugby Championship
Bledisloe Cup - #1
(i) August 18: Wallabies v New Zealand, Sydney (ANZ), 8pm
August 18: South Africa v Argentina, Cape Town
Bledisloe Cup - #2
(ii) August 25: Wallabies v New Zealand, Auckland, 7.35pm
August 25: Argentina v South Africa, Mendoza
Mandela Challenge Plate - #1
(iii) September 8: Wallabies v South Africa, Perth, 6.30pm
September 8: New Zealand v Argentina, Wellington
(iv) September 15: Wallabies v Argentina, Gold Coast, 8pm
September 15: New Zealand v South Africa, Dunedin
Mandela Challenge Plate - #2
(v) September 29: Wallabies v South Africa, Pretoria, 3pm
September 29: Argentina v New Zealand, La Plata
(vi) October 6: Wallabies v Argentina, Rosario, 8pm
October 6: South Africa v New Zealand, Soweto
Bledisloe Cup Test - #3
(vii) October 20: Wallabies v New Zealand, Brisbane, 8pm
26 MAY 2013
24 MAY 2013
23 MAY 2013