Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has passed a fitness test and will join exciting uncapped backs Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks in an expanded squad for the Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks.

Openside flanker Hooper, who signed a new five-year $6 million Rugby Australia contract, hasn’t played for seven weeks since injuring his hamstring early in the first Test against Ireland.

Prop Scott Sio (shoulder) and outside back Dane Haylett-Petty (knee) have also passed fitness tests and will be available for Saturday’s opening round Rugby Championship match at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium against New Zealand.

Coach Michael Cheika has cut eight players from his train-on squad, trimming it to 28.

The exclusion from the squad of NSW Waratahs back Curtis Rona increases the likelihood utility back Reece Hodge will start at outside centre, though fullback Israel Folau could still be a contender.

Also omitted were forwards Folau Faingaa, Jermaine Ainsley, Rory Arnold, and Caleb Timu and backs Billy Meakes, Jordan Petaia and Sefa Naivalu.

The Wallabies have just completed an intensive week-long camp in Cessnock in the NSW Hunter region and are regathering in Sydney on Sunday.

Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Adam Coleman, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (c), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Pete Samu, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou

Backs: Tom Banks,Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Matt Toomua.


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