If Michael Cheika was hoping to put the embarrassment of the Wallabies' most recent drubbing at the hands of the All Blacks behind him, he was out of luck at the announcement of the 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Wallabies head coach has taken a massive gamble in selecting his team for the marquee event next month by including only two recognised halfbacks and naming unproven teenager Jordan Petaia at an event in Sydney.

The 19-year-old fullback is set to become the youngest Australian to feature at the World Cup and has been selected despite playing less than 100 minutes of Super Rugby in 2019 due to injury.

Michael Hooper will captain the squad featuring no fewer than 18 World Cup rookies, with David Pocock and Adam Ashley-Cooper, on the cusp of a record fourth appearance at the tournament, two of the most experienced players.

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Wallabies players walk down a stairway as their names are called out in Sydney on Friday. Photo / News Corp Limited Australia
Wallabies players walk down a stairway as their names are called out in Sydney on Friday. Photo / News Corp Limited Australia

Three hookers - Tolu Latu, Folau Fainga'a and Jordan Uelese - have been included but there was no room on the plane for Brumbies No 9 Joe Powell or giant lock Will Skelton.

"We've become a really tight group and it was a very difficult process in picking only 31 players, but I know each player selected will travel to Japan with the full support of those teammates who won't board the flight," Cheika said.

"We have worked really hard at building each week and each game so far this season and play a brand of rugby that Australia would be proud of and get every player contributing towards the outcome.

"It's also important that we select a squad that will handle the tournament play and our draw in particular at the Rugby World Cup, as well as maintain a strong competition for places in the team."

Cheika, widely regarded as one of the most paranoid coaches around, might have even more reason to think someone in the game is out to get him...

According to AAP, eagle-eyed TV presenters noticed the numbers 3, 6, and 0 - in that order - on two different occasions during the team naming.

This comes less than a week after the All Blacks avenged their unexpected defeat in Perth with an emphatic 36-0 victory at Eden Park – in the process retaining the Bledisloe Cup for a 16th straight year.

In one picture posted to social media, Cheika can be seen standing behind a podium in a Qantas hangar while reading out the 31 names for next month's tournament. – with microphones 3, 6, and 0 visible in front of him.

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Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was reminded of the recent All Blacks humiliation during his Rugby World Cup team naming in Sydney on Friday. Photo / News Corp Limited Australia
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was reminded of the recent All Blacks humiliation during his Rugby World Cup team naming in Sydney on Friday. Photo / News Corp Limited Australia

As if that wasn't strange enough, the numbers (and the exact order) were repeated on the side of the stairway the players walked down as their names were called out.

The Wallabies' World Cup squad: Backs: Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jordan Petaia, Adam Ashley-Cooper, TevitaKuridrani, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano, Bernard Foley, Nic White, Will Genia. Forwards: Isi Naisarani, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper (capt), David Pocock, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Sekope Kepu, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Tolu Latu, Folau Fainga'a, Jordan Uelese.