Cooper benched as Wallabies rejig backline

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 04:37

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT:  Australia have dropped playmaker Quade Cooper from a rejigged backline as they attempt to thwart the All Blacks' bid for a world record 18th Test victory in Auckland on Saturday.

However, coach Michael Cheika resisted the temptation to rush inspirational flank David Pocock back from injury, instead naming him on the bench and starting the same forward pack that shone against Argentina two weeks ago.
 
Cooper, who has struggled against New Zealand in the past, was the main casualty as the Wallabies shuffled the backline in the hunt for a first win at Eden Park in 30 years.
 
He was relegated to the bench to make way for Bernard Foley at flyhalf, allowing Cheika to bring Reece Hodge in from the wing to form an imposing centre pairing with Samu Kerevi.
 
Henry Speight replaces Hodge out wide, getting his first start after more than a year away from the Wallabies playing sevens.
 
 In the only other change, Nick Phipps comes in for Will Genia after the in-form scrumhalf was recalled by his French club Stade Francais.
 
Speight scored a try in his last start for the Wallabies, dotting down in the 65-3 rout of Uruguay at the 2015 World Cup.

In stark contrast, Cheika has named an unchanged forward pack for the first time in 2016 with Lopeti Timani holding onto the No.8 jersey after Pocock proved his fitness late on.

Pocock will come off the bench at Eden Park in what will be his first Test since breaking his hand in the 36-20 win over Argentina on September 17.

The final Bledisloe Cup clash will be a special occasion for captain Stephen Moore, who will become the fourth most-capped Wallaby in history, overtaking George Smith when he runs out for his 112th Test.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Ala'alatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 David Pocock, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Sefa Naivalu.
 
Date: Saturday, October 22
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (17.35 AEDT, 06.30 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)