The good news continues for a Melbourne Rebels fan favourite with James Tuttle winning selection for Saturday’s Australia A opener against Samoa despite having only recently joined the team.
The Rebels' reigning Spirit of Weary Dunlop recipient will be joined by Matt Gibbon and Reece Hodge in Australia A’s match day 23, in what will be the side’s first game since 2008.
Head Coach Jason Gilmore has named Brumbies halfback Ryan Lonergan captain of the Australia A side, with Reds backrower Fraser McReight and Melbourne Rebels fullback Reece Hodge have been named as Vice Captains.
McReight is set to start alongside Tim Anstee and Will Harris in the backrow as Anstee returns to the gold jersey, last representing his country for the Aussie 7s.
The side is set to play in Suva this Saturday at 11am (AEST) with Fijian born Seru Uru returning home for his being named in the second row alongside Ryan Smith.
Matt Gibbon, Billy Pollard and former Wallaby Tom Robertson have all been named in the front row, Robertson eager to impress as he aims to return to the Wallabies outfit.
Super Rugby sensation Tame Edmed will wear the number ten jersey joined by Waratahs teammates Lalakai Foketi and Mark Nawaqanitawase who have also been named in the starting backline.
Hodge, Reds pairing Jack Campbell and Hamish Stewart round out the backline with Stewart taking the number 12 jersey while Campbell will look to make an impact from the left wing.
Former Wallaby and Western Force captain Feleti Kaitu’u has been named as reserve hooker while Harry Hoopert and Archer Holz make up the reserve front-row.
Head Coach Jason Gilmore Said: “I’ve been extremely impressed with Ryan’s (Lonergan) ability to lead his Brumbies side over their successful Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
“He’s certainly the right man for the job and pairing him in front of two already proven leaders in McReight and Hodge as vice captains builds us a pretty inspiring leadership group.
“We’ve had to make some extremely tough decisions leading up to game one with many players missing out on a jersey that certainly deserves it.
“It just shows the extraordinary level of depth we currently have in Australian Rugby and I think this competition will only yield successful results for the program.
“I think there are a lot of players who have a point to prove in this side and it’s going to be interesting to see how they play when they get the opportunity this Saturday.”
Rugby AU CEO Andy Marinos said: "This is a very welcomed resumption of the Australia A programme as we continued to build and develop our pathways and performances towards the 2023 RWC and the Golden Decade ahead of us.
"All of these players have put their hands up during the Super Rugby Pacific Competition this year where we look forward to seeing them gel together as a united team in what will be a tough series of international games against the pacific island teams.
"There is a lot of exciting action ahead of us where I know Jason and his management team are raring to go."
Australia A will kick-off their Pacific Championship Campaign against Samoa at 11:00am (AEST) prior to the Wallabies kicking off against England in their first match of the July Series in Perth at 7:55 pm (AEST)
Both matches will be streamed live, ad-free and on demand on Stan Sport.
Australia A team to face Samoa
1. Matt Gibbon – Melbourne Rebels 2. Billy Pollard - Brumbies 3. Tom Robertson – Western Force 4. Seru Uru – Queensland Reds 5. Ryan Smith – Queensland Reds 6. Tim Anstee – Western Force 7. Fraser McReight (VC) – Queensland Reds 8. Will Harris - NSW Waratahs 9. Ryan Lonergan (C) - Brumbies 10. Tane Edmed – NSW Waratahs 11. Jock Campbell – Queensland Reds 12. Hamish Stewart – Queensland Reds 13. Lalakai Foketi – NSW Waratahs 14. Mark Nawaqanitawase – NSW Waratahs 15. Reece Hodge (VC) – Melbourne Rebels Reserves 16. Feleti Kaitu’u – Western Force 17. Harry Hoopert – Queensland Reds 18. Archer Holz – NSW Waratahs 19. Hugh Sinclair – NSW Waratahs 20. Langi Gleeson- NSW Waratahs 21. James Tuttle – Melbourne Rebels 22. Hudson Creighton – Brumbies 23. Dylan Pietsch – NSW Waratahs