Cheika surprises with selections for Italy Test
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has made a number of changes to his team for Saturday’s Test against Italy in Padova on Saturday.
Matt To’omua will finally take the main playmaking reins for the first time since his return to the Wallabies setup, pushing Bernard Foley to 12 in Italy and Kurtley Beale onto the bench.
Jordan Petaia will become the youngest Australian debutant since James O’Connor in 2008 and the third-youngest ever, behind Brian Ford and O’Connor, when he runs out on the wing.
Adam Ashley-Cooper comes into the team on the other wing. Ashley-Cooper hasn’t played a Test in more than two years but rejoined the Wallabies squad a fortnight ago in the first step towards a chance at a fourth Rugby World Cup berth.
— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) November 15, 2018
Israel Folau returns to fullback for the first time since the first Bledisloe in Sydney.
Scrumhalf Jake Gordon has also been thrown straight into a starting spot, with Nick Phipps dropping out of the 23 as his Waratahs teammate earns a debut, while Will Genia will keep his chances of a 100th Test at Twickenham alive after being named on the bench.
Tolu Latu has been dropped from the side, with Folau Fainga’a and Tatafu Polota-Nau taking the hooker duties, but Cheika has kept his first-choice second row in Izack Rodda and Adam Coleman.
Cheika has also opted against giving two of his hardest workers in David Pocock and Michael Hooper a rest in the clash, starting the back-row workhorses together with Jack Dempsey for the second week in a row.
On the bench, Jermaine Ainsley, Rory Arnold and Pete Samu have all earned a recall to the 23.
He has left youngsters Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks out of the 23.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Jordan Petaia, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Will Genia, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty.
Date: Saturday, November 17
Venue: Stadio Euganeo, Padova
Kick-off: 15.00 (14.00 GMT; 01.00 AEDT Sunday, November 18)
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Mike Adamson (Scotland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)