Sat, Sep 23, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Tour spots up for grabs

AFP , SYDNEY

Wallabies captain George Gregan pictured in action during the Australia versus South Africa Rugby test at Telstra Stadium, Sydney, on Aug. 5. Gregan's spot on the upcoming tour of Europe is still up for grabs.

PHOTO: EPA

Five places on the Wallabies' touring team to Europe will be up for grabs in this weekend's final round of the Australian Provincial Championship (APC), coach John Connolly said yesterday.

The selectors will meet next weekend after the APC final and name a 37-man squad.

Veteran skipper and scrum-half George Gregan has already ruled himself out of the tour to concentrate of keeping fresh ahead of next year's World Cup in France.

Connolly said he talked with his fellow selectors and assistant coaches this week and admitted several touring positions were still wide open.

"There [are] probably four or five [positions] we have a fair bit of debate over," Connolly said. "A good performance in the APC this weekend would help some players significantly. It's a big game for a number of players."

The biggest selection dilemma remains at scrum-half following Gregan's decision not to tour.

Sam Cordingley, the designated replacement for Gregan on the tour, said yesterday he was confident of recovering from a foot injury in time for the trip.

Cordingley, in the frame following Gregan's decision, has not played since the Wallabies' 20-18 win against South Africa here on Aug. 5.

But the Queensland Reds No.9 resumed running this week and will undergo a fitness test before the touring squad is announced next month.

The front-row, back-row, and center positions are also seen as problematic.

The Wallabies will play four internationals, three midweek matches and end with a game against the Barbarians on their European tour in November.

Tests against Wales, Italy, Ireland and Scotland will be complemented by midweek matches against Ireland A, Scotland A and Welsh team the Ospreys.

The tour will close with their first match in five years against the Barbarians at London's Twickenham on Nov. 29.

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