Melbourne Rebels two Wallabies-selected players have been left out of Ewen McKenzie's 23-man team for the first test against France, to be played on June 7 in Brisbane.
Luke Jones was highly touted to earn his first Wallabies cap as one of the starting locks in the side following his outstanding season so far with the Rebels, but was overlooked in favour of Brumbies young-gun Sam Carter — who'll also make his debut.
Not even a bench spot was reserved for Jones, with former Wallabies captain James Horwill filling the no.19 jersey.
Meanwhile, Melbourne captain Scott Higginbotham — who began the season in hot form and was briefly considered to be Australia's next captain — was always going to be overlooked in the backrow after Scott Fardy and Michael Hooper formed great loose forward partnerships during the last tests, and Wycliff Palu enjoying more recent form and success with the Waratahs.
Ben McCalman will occupy the no.20 jersey on the bench.
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The Wallabies new halves pairing will be Nic White and Bernard Foley, and the selection of former Rebel Nick Phipps in reserve means that Reds scrumhalf Will Genia has been surprisingly omitted altogether.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has said that the motivation for all of his selections have been based on recent form.
“We function in a performance environment and so it’s important to reward those who have consistently played at a high level over the course of the season,” McKenzie said.
“This year we’re in a particularly strong position whereby so many of our players have been performing well for their provinces. The margins are so small but it unfortunately does mean that quality players are going to miss out, which is the case for our opening Test against France.
“However, selection will always be a week-to-week proposition at a Test level and the challenge now is for those players chosen to continue playing at the high level we know they can.”
Higginbotham and Jones will hope that they're selected in the team for next weeks second test which will be held in Melbourne on June 14.
WALLABIES TEAM vs. France, June 7: 1. James Slipper, 2. Stephen Moore (c), 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Rob Simmons, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Scott Fardy, 7. Michael Hooper (vc), 8. Wycliff Palu, 9. Nic White, 10. Bernard Foley, 11. Nick Cummins, 12. Matt Toomua, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (vc), 15. Israel Folau
Replacements: 16. Tatafu Polata-Nau, 17. Pek Cowan, 18. Paddy Ryan, 19. James Horwill, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Kurtley Beale, 23. Pat McCabe
Omitted: Nathan Charles, Scott Sio, Will Skelton, Luke Jones, Matt Hodgson, Scott Higginbotham, Will Genia, Christian Leali'ifano, Rob Horne