Wallaby puzzle

By JAMES DAMPNEY

WALLABIES coach John Connolly is set to leave everyone guessing about his World Cup captain for at least another couple of months. Connolly yesterday took his first step in the long countdown to the World Cup starting in September when he named a 59-man national train-on squad. Even with such a large group there were several interesting omissions including Matt Henjak. Once rated the likely successor to George Gregan, Henjak wasn't ranked in the top six halfbacks in the country, with the Brumbies' Gregan, Force teammate Matt Giteau, Queensland's Sam Cordingley and NSW trio Josh Valentine, Brett Sheehan and Josh Holmes all rated ahead of him by Connolly and Wallaby selectors Scott Johnson and Michael O'Connor. "It's definitely disappointing not being in the mix in a World Cup year," Henjak said. Last year's Wallaby hooker Tai McIsaac and stalwart Queensland breakaway David Croft were also overlooked. Brumbies centre Gene Fairbanks and Force No.8 Scott Fava could also consider themselves unlucky to miss out. The train-on squad will be slashed to 40 for a three-day training camp in Sydney from May 15-17, before a Wallabies squad of 30 is named prior to the opening Test of 2007 against Wales in Sydney on May 26. Connolly concedes he is yet to decide on his captain and may use several in the Tests against Wales (2), Fiji, New Zealand (2) and South Africa (2) leading up to the World Cup in France. "We'll obviously name a captain for the World Cup," Connolly said. "For the seven Tests prior to that you might see two or three people captain Australia over that period in terms of the squad. "For example whether it be (George) Gregan, (Stirling) Mortlock, (Stephen) Larkham, (Phil) Waugh, (George) Smith, those players may not play every Test." Complicating the captaincy, longtime skipper Gregan has a fight on his hands to secure a regular starting spot. Connolly is known to like the look of Matt Giteau at No.9 and experienced Queensland Red Cordingley, back in the frame after successfully playing his first game in six months after overcoming a foot injury, even if that game was a 92-3 humiliation by the Bulls. Connolly said there were plenty of positions up for grabs in the Test team, with a few exceptions. Rugby league convert Ryan Cross was included in the train-on squad after a solid season with the Western Force.



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