Australia

Wallabies change eight

Thu, 21 Nov 2013 10:09
Mike-harris-australia Christianlealiifanowallabytraining Mike-harris-aus-kicks-630 Christian-leali_ifano-b_w
We've made some difficult selection decisions
Quote-end

The Wallabies have made eight changes, including four to the starting line-up, for Saturday's third year-end tour clash and Hopetoun Cup showdown with Scotland at Murrayfield.

The four changes to the starting XV have been made to the backline - with a new midfield pairing of inside centre Mike Harris and outside centre Christian Leali'ifano, along with a new wing pairing of Joe Tomane and Chris Feauai-Sautia.

For Leali'ifano and Tomane this match is their first in the starting team since they suffered injuries in Australia's record breaking 54-17 victory over Argentina during the Rugby Championship in October.

Feauai-Sautia also made his Test debut during that tournament against South Africa and will now receive his second cap for the Wallabies, while Harris, who has eight caps for Australia, gets his first opportunity in the team for 2013.

An additional four changes have been made to the bench - with prop Ben Alexander, back row forward Ben McCalman and versatile backs Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley all coming into the matchday squad.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said he was expecting his squad to make the most of their opportunities against Scotland on Saturday.

"We've made some difficult selection decisions this week and now I'll be looking to see how those individuals with an opportunity respond to the challenge," McKenzie said.

"All year-end tour I've been impressed by the competition we've been able to create in a number of positions. Now, some of those guys get a chance to impress in new roles this week.

"Christian hasn't had a great deal of experience at outside centre but he is a class player and we're confident he can adjust to the position. We'll be asking him to bring the things he does well to the game and nothing more.

"At the other end, we have the luxury of naming an unchanged forward pack from last week's win.

"I was really impressed by how they stood up against a stout Ireland pack and now it's their job to replicate and improve on that effort against Scotland."

McKenzie also said his squad would be determined to turn the tables on Scotland after losing their past two matches in 2009 (8-9) and 2012 (6-9).

"Our main focus right now is to get our own backyard in order and start building momentum by winning consecutive games," he said.

"We took a step forward last week by scoring our first back-to-back win of the year, but now it's about getting three in a row.

"However, Scotland is also a team that has gotten the better of Australia in the recent past and has won the past two games. This is an important match for the group to get right."

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Christian Leali'ifano, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nic White, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Bernard Foley.

Date: Saturday, November 23
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 18.00 (18.00 GMT; 05.00, Sunday, November 24 AEDT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France) and Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)

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