Australia have named 10 uncapped players in their preliminary squad to tour the UK this autumn.
The move is the clearest indication yet that Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans is gearing his side towards the 2011 World Cup and beyond.
The biggest landmark following the next World Cup comes in the form of the 2013 Lions tour, with Britain and Ireland’s elite travelling Down Under in an attempt to make amends for their 2001 series defeat to the Wallabies.
And the make up of Australia’s latest training squad suggests that the majority of this current crop of Wallabies could well be facing the Lions in four years time.
The average age of the Australian XV that faced the All Blacks in their most-recent fixture was just 24. Full back James O’Connor was the youngest at 19, while scrum-half Will Genia and flanker David Pocock are both just 21.
Of that same side, only Mark Chilsholm and George Smith are over the age of 26. And at 28 and 29 respectively, neither are likely to over the hill come 2013.
Deans, who saw his side record just one win in the recent Tri Nations tournament, has picked plenty of flesh blood, with Western Force wing Nick Cummins, Waratahs midfield back Rob Horne, Reds and Australian Sevens scrum-half Richard Kingi, Brumbies blindside flanker Mitchell Chapman, Waratahs lock Dave Dennis, Waratahs and Australia U-20 hooker Damien Fitzpatrick, Brumbies prop Salesi Ma’afu and Sydney University utility forward Ben McCalman joining previous squad members Kurtley Beale and Matt Hodgson in looking for their first international caps.
Wing Digby Ioane is also back in the fold after missing the Tri Nations following shoulder reconstruction.
"It’s a starting point,” said Deans when announcing the 43-man squad who will train together for four days from October 5.
"The four-day training camp gives us the opportunity to bring the group together, assess where the guys are at, and also look at some new options.
"It’s an important tour for us as a group, and for Australian Rugby as a whole. While not all of the players who come into camp with us next week will go on the tour, those who get left behind will still have the knowledge of our processes, and have spent some time in the environment, which will be invaluable should we have injuries and require reinforcements."
Australia leave home on October 24 for a Bledisloe Cup tie with New Zealand in Tokoyo ahead of their UK tour opener against England at Twickenham on November 7.
They then face Ireland, Scotland and Wales in Dublin, Edinburgh and Cardiff on consecutive weekends throughout November.
Australia training squad
James O’Connor (Western Force), Lachie Turner (Waratahs), Kurtley Beale (Waratahs), Drew Mitchell (Western Force), Digby Ioane (Reds), Nick Cummins (Western Force), Peter Hynes (Reds), Ryan Cross (Western Force), Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies), Rob Horne (Waratahs), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies), Matt Giteau (Western Force), Quade Cooper (Reds), Berrick Barnes (Reds), Josh Valentine (Western Force), Will Genia (Reds), Luke Burgess (Waratahs), Richard Kingi (Reds), Wycliff Palu (Waratahs), George Smith (Brumbies), David Pocock (Western Force), Phil Waugh (Waratahs), Stephen Hoiles (Brumbies), Matt Hodgson (Western Force), Rocky Elsom (Brumbies), Dean Mumm (Waratahs), Richard Brown (Western Force), Mitchell Chapman (Brumbies), Ben McCalman (Western Force), Mark Chisholm (Brumbies), James Horwill (Reds), Nathan Sharpe (Western Force), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), Al Baxter (Waratahs), Matt Dunning (Waratahs), Pekahou Cowan (Western Force), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Salesi Ma’afu (Brumbies), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Benn Robinson (Waratahs), Damien Fitzpatrick (Waratahs), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs)