Rugby Union: Canberra Vikings prop Ben Alexander pushing for World Cup recall
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Rugby Union: Canberra Vikings prop Ben Alexander pushing for World Cup recall

Forgotten Wallabies prop Ben Alexander is determined to use his stint with the Canberra Vikings to push for a World Cup recall.

Alexander and former Brumbies winger Francis Fainifo​ headline a strong 37-man Vikings squad for the National Rugby Championship.

Former Wallabies prop Ben Alexander will be playing for the Canberra Vikings in the National Rugby Championship.

Former Wallabies prop Ben Alexander will be playing for the Canberra Vikings in the National Rugby Championship.Credit:Jay Cronan

Brumbies flanker Jarrad Butler takes over the captaincy duties while Rory Arnold is keen to build on his breakout Super Rugby season, which led to selection in the Wallabies' extended squad.

Alexander is one of 14 Brumbies-contracted players in the Vikings' squad after the 72-Test veteran was surprisingly overlooked for the Rugby Championship.

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Canberra Vikings lock Rory Arnold is aiming to build on a strong Super Rugby season.

Canberra Vikings lock Rory Arnold is aiming to build on a strong Super Rugby season.Credit:Graham Tidy

Brumbies' director of rugby, Dan McKellar, praised Alexander's attitude and said he was eager to win back his spot in the national team.

"He's been really motivated to get stuck into his training and try and force his way back into the (Wallabies) squad," McKellar said.

"He's not someone who will sit around and kick stones.

"He's ripped in, he's keen and he trained with the boys on Monday night and led from the front, which is what we expect."

Fainifo comes back into the fold after spending the past four seasons in French rugby with Stade Francais​.

The 31-year-old played 47 games for the Brumbies between 2007 and 2011, returning to play club rugby with the Tuggeranong Vikings a couple of months ago.

"He made contact earlier in the year and was keen to be involved if he was selected," McKellar said.

"Having his experience in the outside backs, where we have plenty of young guys, will be great to have around.

"Conditioning-wise he's in pretty good nick, so we're pretty confident he can handle this level."

Arnold is returning for his second season with the Vikings having used last year's competition as a springboard to winning a Brumbies' contract.

The 25-year-old turned out to be one of the NRC's success stories, the 2.08m giant becoming a regular in the Brumbies side and being named in the extended Wallabies squad.

"It was unexpected to get called into that, but it was good to go up there and train with those players and get a taste for that next level," Arnold said. "It gives me a little bit of confidence, but I'm not getting ahead of myself.

"It's a long year, there's a lot of games, people can go down injured and I could get that call-up (to the Wallabies), but there's a few boys ahead of me so I'm not too fussed."

The Vikings finished last year's inaugural season with just two wins, two draws and four losses – a record Butler is keen to improve on.

"It's a really strong squad so we've got that link already and don't have to learn new plays," Butler said.

"We took a lot away from last year as far as what we have to do differently.

"The coaches have worked really hard to make changes, so it's up to us as a playing group to get on board."

The UC Vikings start their NRC campaign against NSW Country in Sydney on August 29.

Canberra Vikings: Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, Ben Alexander, Tyrell Lomax, Albert Anae, Robbie Abel, Connal McInerney, Allan Alaalatoa​, Phil Kite, Sione Talua, Rory Arnold, Blake Enever, Gareth Clouston, Dave McKern, Jordan Smiler, Dean Oakman-Hunt, Michael Oakman-Hunt, Rowan Perry, Dan Penca, Ita Vaea, Jarrad Butler (c), Joe Powell, Brent Hamlin, Mitch Third, Christian Lealiifano*, Rodney Iona, Jerome Nuimata, Lausii Taliauli, Jake Rakic, James Dargaville, Francis Fainifo, Nigel Ah-Wong, Henry Speight*, Jake Knight, Ratu Tagive, Joe Tomane*, Isaac Thompson, Aidan Toua

* Marquee Wallabies allocated for 2015 NRC