Connolly calls up Chapman

Queensland Reds loose forward Mitchell Chapman will join the Australian squad in Italy as cover for injured lock Dan Vickerman.

Vickerman damaged his shoulder in Saturday’s 29-29 draw against Wales, and will be out of rugby for the better part of six months. Chapman’s inclusion in the squad should not affect the starting team to play Italy on Saturday, but his selection has been made to provide cover at lock in the greater squad.

Chapman, who is yet to win a Test cap, has played in the Vodacom Super 14 primarily as a flanker, but can play at No 8 and lock as well. The 23 year old is a former captain of the Australian Schoolboys, and has also turned out for Australia A.

His call up to the Wallabies is also due to the fact that flanker Hugh McMeniman is unlikely to continue the tour after sustaining a neck injury against the Ospreys. New South Welshman Al Kanaar was the original replacement, but is still recovering from ankle surgery. Another Waratahs lock Will Caldwell, was next in line for national honours, but he has broken his arm in the Prime Minister’s XV game against Japan where the Aussies won 65-19.

The Queenslander is likely to get his first chance on tour against Ireland A in the midweek game next Wednesday. Lock Nathan Sharpe believes that this is a stroke of fortune that Chapman cannot afford to waste, with the World Cup less than a year away.

“You always like to have your full-strength side on the park, but the beauty of a tour like this is that it provides opportunities for guys to play and step up and put their best foot forward, especially coming up to a World Cup,” Sharpe said.

“There might be a few queries over certain people in a 30-man squad, so it gives selectors and the coach a chance to have a look at everyone so that when they do pick a World Cup squad, they’ve got the right people.”