Rugby Championship Wycliff Palu, Christian Lealiifano among nine Wallabies omissions

Wycliff Palu and Christian Lealiifano were among the players cut from Australia's squad ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against South Africa on July 18.

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Wycliff Palu and Christian Lealiifano were among the players cut from Australia's squad ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against South Africa on July 18.

Coach Michael Cheika cut his Wallabies squad from 40 to 31 on Friday, with Palu and Lealiifano the biggest casualties.

Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner, Samu Kerevi, Toby Smith and Nic White were also omitted.

Palu, 32, has been capped 54 times, while 27-year-old Lealiifano has played 16 matches for the Wallabies.

The omissions are a huge blow to the nine players' chances of making the Rugby World Cup squad.

"There were obviously some really tough calls to make," Cheika said in a statement.

"The players who have not been named in this 31-man squad will still remain part of the group and will continue to contribute.

"We have also taken the opportunity to rest players, as we know it is going to be a long international season.

"I have had a good chance to test some combinations and see some players in a high intensity environment. It's given me great confidence knowing we're establishing some depth in key positions."

The Brumbies' Rory Arnold and Waratahs' Taqele Naiyaravoro are the only uncapped players in the 31-man squad.

Australia host South Africa in Brisbane on July 17 before a trip to Argentina (July 25) and clash at home to New Zealand (August 8) in a shortened edition of the championship due to the World Cup.

Squad in full:

Rory Arnold (Brumbies), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), Kurtley Beale (Waratahs), Quade Cooper (Reds), Scott Fardy (Brumbies), Israel Folau (Waratahs), Bernard Foley (Waratahs), Will Genia (Reds), Matt Giteau (Toulon), Scott Higginbotham (Rebels), Greg Holmes (Reds), Michael Hooper (Waratahs), Rob Horne (Waratahs), James Horwill (Reds), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies), Stephen Moore - Captain (Brumbies), Drew Mitchell (Toulon), Ben McCalman (Force), Sean McMahon (Rebels), Dean Mumm (Waratahs), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs), Nick Phipps (Waratahs), David Pocock (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Rob Simmons (Reds), Will Skelton (Waratahs), James Slipper (Reds), Matt Toomua (Brumbies) , Joe Tomane (Brumbies)

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