Wallabies make eight changes for first Wales test
Posted 347 days ago
FIVE NEW forwards and three new backs feature in the starting combination, from that beaten 9-6 by Scotland midweek in Newcastle.
The alterations in the pack sees the all-New South Wales Waratahs front-row return to duty after not being required to back up from last weekend’s Super Rugby round midweek, while the Queensland Reds second rower Rob Simmons is reinstated for the injured Sitaleki Timani, after making an impact off the bench in Newcastle.
The changes mean loosehead prop Benn Robinson makes his first appearance since the record breaking 59-16 win over France that bookended the 2010 Spring Tour, having been forced to miss all of last year’s Test programme due to a knee injury.
Fellow prop Sekope Kepu is also back after an injury enforced break, where an eye injury sustained in the Rugby World Cup semi-final ruled him out of the back-to-back Tests against Saturday night’s opponents which ended the 2011 season.
Tatafu Polota Nau, who lines up between them at hooker, is one of nine members of the starting XV who also featured during Australia’s 24-18 win over Wales in Cardiff last December.
The others are fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper, winger Digby Ioane, flyhalf Berrick Barnes, halfback Will Genia, flankers David Pocock and Scott Higginbotham, and locks Simmons and Nathan Sharpe.
The fifth alteration to the forward pack from that which started against Scotland is at the back of the scrum where Wycliff Palu returns at No 8, for what will be just his third Test outing since 2009 after an unfortunate run of injuries.
The return of Palu necessitates a positional change which will see the versatile Queensland Reds loose forward Scott Higginbotham move from No 8, where he featured prominently against Scotland, to the blindside flank.
The backline unit named brings Ashley-Cooper into fullback for Luke Morahan, Rob Horne at centre moving Anthony Fainga’a to the bench, while Pat McCabe also returns to the midfield, taking over from Mike Harris.
Harris, who was one of six to make his Test debut in the Hopetoun Cup defeat by Scotland, has been named on a bench which also includes Brumbies halfback Nic White.
White would become the 860th Wallaby if he is called on to make his Test debut.
The forward reserves named all now have Test experience, with loose forwards Michael Hooper and Dave Dennis having taken their maiden bows midweek. Dennis offers both back row and second row expertise, which has taken on added importance in light of the absence of the towering Timani.
A last minute change sees Brumbies winger Joe Tomane, who’s suffered a syndesmosis injury in his left ankle, has been replaced in the Test line-up by Melbourne Rebels winger Cooper Vuna.
Australia v Wales
Saturday, 9th June 2012 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 11:00 BST
Adam Ashley-Cooper, Cooper Vuna, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Will Genia, Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota Nau, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Nathan Sharpe, Scott Higginbotham, David Pocock [C], Wycliff Palu,
Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Nic White, Anthony Fainga’a, Mike Harris