Wallabies change it up

Thu, 26 Sep 2013 09:21
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Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has made six changes to the side to take on the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has made six changes to the side to take on the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday.

Captain James Horwill makes his return from injury as his team look to maintain the Mandela Challenge Plate after the Springboks won the opening Test in Brisbane a fortnight ago.

Three of those changes come to the starting backline, which include Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani receiving his first international run-on opportunity and a new wing pairing of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Joe Tomane.

Ashley-Cooper will start on the wing for the first time since last year's clash against France in Paris as he fills the gap left by James O'Connor.

Tomane has recovered from a shoulder injury to gain selection opposite Ashley-Cooper after starting the final two games on the wing for the Wallabies during their series against The British and Irish Lions.

On the bench prop Benn Robinson will receive his first opportunity for Australia during the Ewen McKenzie-era while 19-year-old sensation Chris Feauai-Sautia is in line to make his Wallabies Test debut.

Scrumhalf Nic White has also maintained his place in the number nine jersey after being awarded the team's internal Players' Player award against Argentina.

McKenzie said that having Horwill back is a major stabilising influence, especially given the physical nature of the Springboks.

"James has plenty of experience and we are going into a tough environment.  He plays the game hard so it's timely that he is back," McKenzie said.

He said that he had tried to get the best balance possible in his outside backs, with some of his selections being forced.

"In our outside backs we've already been forced into change but Tomane on one wing is pretty straight forward. He is big and powerful and has been in the squad for a long time.

"The question after that is whether we wanted to bring an uncapped player onto the wing or go with Kuridrani, who has been training with the squad every week and has been used off the bench in two games.

"In the end we wanted to make things as smooth as possible while relying on as much experience as we can.  We're going with guys who have been training with us consistently since the beginning of the tournament," he said.

The Wallabies boss explained that Ashley-Cooper's versatility should be seen as a blessing, as he is familiar with a few different roles.

"Adam Ashley-Cooper also has great capacity to cover a number of positions and we're always going to use him in different roles.  With his experience he knows what's required and the role is something he feels comfortable doing.  It won't change the way he contributes," said McKenzie.

He said that the inclusion of Benn Robinson on the bench gives them the ability to raise the intensity up front later in the game.

"Benn Robinson also comes in, which if you look at it in its totality, means our bench is structured to give us plenty of impact later in the game. That's where we've been at our weakest so far.

"Bringing in experience later in the game can only lift your performance and at the same time they can stake a claim for a further opportunity in the starting team," he added.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Chris Feauai-Sautia.

Date: Saturday, September 28
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT; 01.00 Sunday, September 29 AEST)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Pascal Gauzère (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)