He could well be the biggest selection gamble in the Wallabies squad, but Kane Douglas couldn’t care less and is ready to repay the enormous faith shown in him by coach Michael Cheika.
The Wallabies are in the toughest group in the tournament, along with England, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay. “John (Eales) called me probably around 7.30 last night; I had his number in my phone so I knew it was him; so at least I knew that much”.
It’s a strong squad with a clear direction to selections.
Moments after the 31-man squad was unveiled in Sydney on Friday, Genia texted White to pass on his commiserations. I think he did well last week.
Overall the squad looks balanced, but there is some youth and inexperience within.
They were until the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) relaxed its eligibility rules in May to free up long-serving overseas-based stars like Giteau, winger Drew Mitchell and flanker George Smith to be available for Wallabies selection again.
Nick Phipps and the veteran Will Genia are the only scrumhalves named in the squad, though utility Matt Giteau provides some cover.
The squad is made up of 17 forwards and 14 backs and will be captained by Stephen Moore in his third consecutive Rugby World Cup. ‘But we still have improvement to make and we have time’.
Elsewhere, Cheika has done a very good job with squeezing the most from his 31 names.
“What it (Horwill’s omission) allowed me to do was have two teams that we can train accordingly and turn around according to the draw for the first part of the tournament”, Cheika said.
“So putting the balance; I was always looking to make complementary combinations whether it’s in second-row or back-row, front-row, whatever”.
Horwill, who captained Australia at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, was overlooked despite offering critical experience of playing in northern hemisphere conditions and Cheika said the 58-cap lock was unfortunate.
“I don’t think it’s pressure in that sense but the only pressure I feel is pressure I put on myself to perform, I don’t want to let my team-mates down, let Australia down, let the country down”.