Wallabies head for South Africa to begin World Cup charge
After doing the hard yards in Australia, the Wallabies have headed overseas excited about the rugby carrots dangling before them in a World Cup year.
With the squad's Brumbies contingent joining them after some time off following last weekend's Super Rugby semi-final in Argentina the 34 players flew to South Africa on Sunday.
They start their five-Test build-up to the World Cup in Japan in September with a Rugby Championship opening round fixture in Johannesburg on July 21 Australian time.
The Wallabies play only one rather than the usual two rounds of Championship games and face New Zealand in a second Bledisloe Cup match and a warm-up Test against Samoa before the World Cup.
"Really excited to get away; we've been doing some real hard yards up until this point," Wallabies' captain and flanker Michael Hooper said on Sunday just before departing.
"It's the first time we're really getting the full squad together, the Brumbies coming in today, and getting on the plane together and going to work.
"Everyone is so excited about the job, there's so many carrots throughout the year to go for and strive for, it's a great opportunity to be a part of."
Hooper said he was hugely excited by the uncapped trio of backrowers, Isi Naisarani, Liam Wright and Rob Valetini.
The Wallabies leader was also excited by the recall of veteran playmaker Christian Lealiifano, who played his last Test just over three years ago and was sidelined for 12 months after being diagnosed with leukaemia
"Every team I've been a part of a side with him, he adds something so much on and off the field," Hooper said of Lealiifano.
"Really excited to see him back in the colours and a great reward for a top season."
The Wallabies will have an unusually long time in South Africa prior to their season-opening Test.
"It's always helpful to get attuned to the climate over there; it's sunny and low on oxygen every day so we get a bit of a taste of that (with almost two weeks) over there," Hooper said.
Among the injured players missing from the squad are veteran forwards David Pocock, Adam Coleman and, Tatafu Polota-Nau.
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