Australia omit Timani for France Test

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 14:58
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TEAM UPDATE: Australia coach Michael Cheika has finalised his bench for Saturday's match against France, omitting No.8 Lopeti Timani from the matchday 23.

Taqele Naiyaravoro will wear the No.23 jersey in what is set to be his third Test.

Dean Mumm will provide the back-row cover off the bench with skipper Stephen Moore to wear the unfamiliar No.16 jersey in what will be his 115th Test.

David Pocock, playing at No.7, will be the run-on captain as the Wallabies look to build on victories over Wales and Scotland, with a first Grand Slam since 1984 on the cards with games against Ireland and England to follow the French clash.

"We're going with a five-three on the bench," said Cheika of the forwards/backs split, with most coaches nowadays plumping for a more forwards-heavy ratio given the increasingly hard-hitting nature of the modern game.

"The conditions look good. We've got a bit of versatility with the pack around scrummaging locks.

"We've also got a few newcomers out wide, it would be a big ask for them to go the full 80 minutes."

Cheika played down fitness concerns over Quade Cooper, picked at flyhalf with in-form incumbent Bernard Foley among the replacements.

"He was injured on Tuesday in training," he said of the former Toulon playmaker who has been rested for much of the week.

"We wanted to get the swelling down, but he'll be fine.

"We're playing Test match N0.12 this year. No one's in shape, everyone's playing with some injury. It's about toughing it out and going out there and doing it.

"Foley, for example, played the World Cup, played in Japan, played Super Rugby and now he's here.

"As players, you have to play injured and I'm sure in the French team it's the same."

Cheika added: "I'm sure Quade will be ready to go tomorrow."

The Wallaby coach also bristled at comments that the team he selected was essentially his second team, with a raft of senior players rested.

"I told the side that the response to our selection was that we were playing our 'B' team," Cheika said.

"I explained that to the team, I left it with them. We'll see what the reaction is tomorrow night, we'll see if we're the 'B' team or not."

The Wallaby coach warned, however, that his side would have to up their defence after their narrow 23-22 victory over Scotland last week.

"Defensively we've got to be better than we were last week. Against Scotland, we weren't focused enough on our defence early in the match and we let in a couple of soft tries instead of being a lot more rigorous at the tackle contest," he said.

Captain Pocock echoed Cheika's sentiments, saying: "They looked very good against Samoa [a game the French won 52-8].

"In attack they were exceptional, and we're expecting a very tough game."

Pocock added: "There's a bunch of new players who get an opportunity this week and that's really exciting.

"We've got depth to our squad and something we've been working hard on is getting everybody up to speed."

Australia - revised: 15. Luke Morahan, 14 Sefanaia Naivalu, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 David Pocock (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 James Slipper.    
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Dean Mumm, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Agence France-Presse