Mortlock captains Australia

Stirling Mortlock has been named as Australian rugby's new captain for Australia's seven-match tour of Europe in November. [more]

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Stirling Mortlock has been named as Australian rugby’s new captain for Australia’s seven-match tour of Europe in November.

Outside centre Mortlock was named as captain of the team in the absence of George Gregan, who has chosen to rest from the tour and concentrate on next year’s World Cup in France.

Brumbies utility back Gene Fairbanks and Queensland lock James Horwill are the only uncapped players to win selection in the Wallabies’ 37-man squad.

The squad also includes nine players who were not part of the Wallabies 12-Test international season this year with veterans Brendan Cannon (hooker), David Lyons (No. 8) and centre Morgan Turinui returning to the fold, as are up-and-comers Al Campbell, Stephen Hoiles, Hugh McMeniman, Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau.

"It is a great opportunity for a lot of the guys in the squad," Mortlock said.

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"Likewise a fair opportunity for myself to have a crack at captain on the tour."

Coach John Connolly has named Dan Vickerman and Phil Waugh as vice-captains. Vickerman is expected to skipper the side in the first Test against Wales if Mortlock is unable to recover from last week’s minor knee surgery in time.

Sam Cordingley and Brett Sheehan were the only scrum-halves named to compete for Gregan’s vacant position suggesting Matt Giteau may get a run at No.9 sometime on the tour.

But the big men in the squad are Fairbanks and Horwill, while Polota-Nau is also a dark horse selection as one of four hookers named in the squad in light of veteran Jeremy Paul’s resting.

Fairbanks, 24, was used in a utility role during the back end of the Brumbies’ 2006 Super 14 campaign, filling in for Stephen Larkham at flyhalf and then Giteau at inside centre.

He had an outstanding campaign in the centres for the Brumbies’ successful Australian Provincial Championships.

"To get the call, I am stoked," said Fairbanks on ABC Sport. "It was very up in the air, no-one had let on whether you were in the mix or anything for the trip.

"So I was just trying to play good football."

The 21-year-old Horwill said he would use the European tour to push for a place in Australia’s World Cup squad for next year.

"It’s a massive opportunity for everyone to press their claims for next year," he said.

"Knuckles (Connolly) has said that it starts now so you’ve just got to try and put your best foot forward to show that you are able to play in that World Cup squad next year."

Australia play Tests against Wales, Italy, Ireland and Scotland as well as three mid-week matches.

Squad: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Alistair Baxter, Rodney Blake, Alister Campbell, Brendan Cannon, Mark Chisholm, Sam Cordingley, Rocky Elsom, Gene Fairbanks, Mark Gerrard, Matt Giteau, Stephen Hoiles, Greg Holmes, James Horwill, Stephen Larkham, Chris Latham, David Lyons, Tai McIsaac, Hugh McMeniman, Drew Mitchell, Stephen Moore, Stirling Mortlock, Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Clyde Rathbone, Benn Robinson, Mat Rogers, Nathan Sharpe, Brett Sheehan, Cameron Shepherd, Guy Shepherdson, George Smith, Scott Staniforth, Lote Tuqiri, Morgan Turinui, Daniel Vickerman, Phil Waugh.

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