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September 29, 2009

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10 uncapped players in Australian squad

A WEEK after completing a Tri-Nations campaign that included just one win in six matches, Australia recalled injured backs Stirling Mortlock and Digby Ioane and prop Matt Dunning in a 43-man training squad that contained 10 uncapped players for its end-of-season tour of Japan and Europe.

The squad will undergo four days of training in Sydney before coach Robbie Deans announces his 35-man touring squad on October 9.

The tour includes Australia's first bid for a grand slam tour of Britain and Ireland since the 1984 side successfully beat Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland - the first Wallabies side to achieve the feat against the so-called Home Unions.

The trip begins with the final Bledisloe Cup test of the season when Australia and New Zealand play at Tokyo's National Stadium on October 31. New Zealand has already clinched the Bledisloe Cup for this season.

"The four-day training camp gives us he opportunity to bring the group together, assess where the guys are at, and also look at some new options," Deans said.

The newcomers include Western Force winger Nick Cummins, New South Wales midfield back Rob Horne, Queensland Reds and Australian Sevens scrumhalf Richard Kingi - one of four scrumhalves in the squad - ACT Brumbies blindside flanker Mitchell Chapman and Brumbies prop Salesi Ma'afu.

Mortlock missed the bulk of the Tri-Nations series after injuring his left knee playing South Africa at Cape Town and the Wallabies missed the 32-year-old skipper's direction in midfield.

Props Dunning and Sekope Kepu return to the squad after long absences this season due to injuries sustained in the final game of last year's European tour against the Barbarians at Wembley, which prompted the Australian Rugby Union to call for an investigation into the playing surface.

Following a collapsed scrum, Dunning ruptured his Achilles and his career was in doubt, while Kepu tore a pectoral muscle and missed the bulk of the southern winter.


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