Betham fast-tracked into Wallabies

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 06:44
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Saturday will be a special occasion for Waratahs wing Peter Betham, as he makes his Test debut for Australia against New Zealand.

Saturday will be a special occasion for Waratahs wing Peter Betham, as he makes his Test debut for Australia against New Zealand.

His inclusion in the No.11 jersey is one of the four changes made to the starting line-up for this dead rubber - the third in the three-Test Bledisloe Cup series, with the All Blacks holding an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Betham was called up on Tuesday and was the only fit specialist wing available in the squad, after injuries to Joe Tomane, Chris Feauai-Sautia (hamstring strains) and Nick Cummins (hand).

James O'Connor was unavailable for disciplinary reasons.

His selection caps of a stellar year for the 24-year-old flyer.

Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua has also earned his third starting appearance for Australia and will replace injured teammate Christian Leali'ifano (ankle) in the No.12 jersey.

The unavailability of Scott Fardy (eye) has resulted in a re-shuffle of the team's back row - with Ben McCalman earning a promotion from the bench to No.8, meaning vice-captain Ben Mowen will shift to the side of the scrum at blindside flank.

Quade Cooper will start at flyhalf against the country of his birth for the first time this year and is also expected to assume kicking duties.

* Meanwhile Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia will become just the 39th player to reach the prestigious 50-game milestone for Australia.

It's a deserving honour for the talented Reds playmaker as he joins Wallabies greats George Gregan (139) and Nick Farr Jones (63) as only the third Australian scrumhalf to accomplish the milestone.

On the bench, NSW Waratahs back rower Dave Dennis and versatile Reds back Mike Harris are both in line to receive their first opportunities in the green and gold jersey for 2013.

Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie congratulated Genia and Betham on their respective milestones.

"Will has been an amazing servant of Australia for a long time now so it's extremely pleasing for him to reach 50 games, a huge career milestone in any player's career," McKenzie said.

"He has an incredible drive to see Australia succeed at this level and you'll no doubt see that in his performance against the All Blacks on Saturday.

"I think I speak for everyone when I congratulate Will on reaching the prestigious 50-game honour.

"It will also be a hugely memorable occasion for Peter, who gets the opportunity to experience his first taste of Test rugby in what will be a very hostile environment against a talented New Zealand team.

"The reality of rugby is that most players get an opportunity at the misfortune of one of their teammates, but it's about what each individual does with that opportunity that counts the most.

"That doesn't just apply to Peter but to a number of guys who are receiving a chance this week. There is no better way to make your mark than by playing well against the All Blacks."

Betham will become the 12th player to debut for Australia in 2013, joining: Scott Fardy, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, Jesse Mogg, Ben Mowen, Scott Sio, Matt Toomua, and Nic White.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen, 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 Dave Dennis, 21 Nic White, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Bernard Foley.

Date: Saturday, October 16
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT; 17.35 AEST)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)