Western Force rookie gets shock call-up to Australia ‘A’ squad for Pacific Nations Cup

Headshot of Nick Taylor
Nick TaylorThe West Australian
Feleti Kaitu’u has been named in the Wallabies A squad.
Camera IconFeleti Kaitu’u has been named in the Wallabies A squad. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Western Force back-rower Jackson Pugh has received a surprise call-up to the Wallabies ‘A’ squad for next month’s Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji.

The 22-year-old local product’s selection to international ranks comes after just seven appearances in his debut Super Rugby Pacific season.

Six Force players are in the squad.

Pugh is joined by another left-field selection, fly-half/full back Jake Strachan while flanker Tim Anstee, who spent four years with the Australian sevens squad and made the Wallabies camp last year, edges closer to the international double.

Second-rower Ryan McCauley, who has represented Australian schoolboys and under-20 sides, Force captain and hooker Feleti Kaitu’u who made three Wallabies appearances last year and prop Tom Robertson who has 24 Caps, are also included in the squad of eight capped Wallabies.

Coach Jason Gilmore said: “The team has good combination of experienced and young players and I think the team will get a lot out of the upcoming tournament in Fiji.

“Looking at some of the names included in the squad it is apparent that the depth within Australian rugby continues to grow and I think our inclusion in the Pacific Nations Cup will be beneficial.”

NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 28: Tom Robertson of the Western Force makes a break during the round three Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match between the Hurricanes and the Western Force at McLean Park on May 28, 2021 in Napier, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)
Camera IconTom Robertson is a step closer to an international return. Credit: Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

Utility back Reece Hodge with 54 Tests is the most experienced inclusion and joins capped players Fraser McReight, Lalakai Foketi and Filipo Daugunu.

Backrower Ned Hanigan is named after making his return to Super Rugby with the Waratahs after a stint in Japan.

Australia ‘A’ play Samoa in Suva on July 2, Fiji, in Lautoka on July 9 and Tonga in Lautoka on July 16.

Rest of Australia ‘A’ squad: Tim Anstee, Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu, Ben Donaldson, Tane Edmed, Matt Faessler, Lalakai Foketi, Feao Fotuaika, Matt Gibbon, Langi Gleeson, Ned Hanigan, Will Harris, Reece Hodge, Harry Hoopert, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jackson Pugh, Feleti Kaitu’u Ryan Lonergan, Ryan McCauley, Fraser McReight, Andy Muirhead, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Dylan Pietsch, Billy Pollard, Tom Robertson, Ryan Smith, Hamish Stewart, Jake Strachan, Seru Uru.

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