Volavola 'earns' Folau's spot

Thu, 07 Mar 2013 09:02
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Ben Volavola has forced his way into the Waratahs starting line-up for their clash with the Brumbies after some impressive performances coming off the bench.

Ben Volavola has forced his way into the Waratahs starting line-up for their clash with the Brumbies after some impressive performances coming off the bench.

The exciting outside backwill start at fullback in the Australian derby, forcing Rugby League convert Israel Foloau onto the wing.

"Ben's just earned it - he's forced me to pick him by coming on and playing really well," said Waratahs coach Michael Cheika.  

"Ben's form, the way he's playing the game and the combination he's forging with Bernard Foley is something I just couldn't ignore."

Impressive off the bench in the first two rounds, the fullback is one of five changes to the starting XV to play the Brumbies this weekend. The other newcomer is Wallaby lock Sitaleki Timani who returns to the side after recovering from a cork.
Cheika has also made three positional changes to accommodate Volavola's arrival and the absence of No.8 Wycliff Palu, who is ruled out with an ankle injury. Lock Mitchell Chapman moves to blindside flank with captain Dave Dennis taking over at No.8 and Folau will start on the right wing in place of Tom Kingston.
Named amongst the replacements is Pat McCutcheon who makes his return to action after twelve months on the sidelines, following a serious ankle injury sustained in round three last season.  Singling him out for praise, Cheika said: "I see the way he prepares and trains and his attitude and I can't leave that type of players out of the team.  

"His attitude is one people should be inspired by because of the way he prepares himself. I want that type of character in the team."

Hooker Luke Holmes, scrumhalf Matt Lucas and wing Lachie Turner are also included on the bench, alongside Lopeti Timani, Paddy Ryan and Greg Peterson.

"These guys have all done well in the pre-season but I need to give them opportunities to play, it's not a case of anyone else having done anything wrong," said Cheika.

The match will also see Sekope Kepu and Dennis earn their 50th caps for the Waratahs.

Waratahs: 15 Ben Volavola, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Greg Peterson, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Pat McCutcheon, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Lachie Turner  

Date: Saturday, March 9
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.40 (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26