Wallabies cover all the bases for Springboks
The Wallabies have covered all bases in their side to face South Africa in Saturday’s opening Rugby Championship at Ellis Park, including debutants, redemption stories and players rewarded for Super Rugby form.
While the Springboks openly stated they had picked a B side with their eye on next week’s clash with the All Blacks, the Wallabies have picked a mixed bag.
Fijian-born Melbourne back row forward Isi Naisarani has been named to make his Wallabies debut, while a number of front row injuries see rookie Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes parachuted straight into the squad after only arriving in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Veteran loosehead James Slipper will make his return to Test rugby after more than two years out, which included a ban for cocaine use, while UK-based scrumhalf Nic White will earn his first Wallabies cap in almost four years with regular starter Will Genia coming off the bench.
Tevita Kuridrani will partner newly-appointed vice-captain Samu Kerevi in the centres, resuming their combination for the first time since 2017, while Brumbies weapon Tom Banks gets his first start at fullback after an impressive Super Rugby season.
Bernard Foley will wear No.10 after Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano was sent home mid-week with a shoulder injury.
Despite the team not being at full-strength, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said they would be going all out for the win as they looked to build momentum into September’s World Cup.
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“This is an opportunity for our team. We really want to begin building momentum to take us towards our goals in 2019,” Cheika said.
“I’m feeling a lot of belief and commitment from the people in this Wallaby squad.
“They’ve all invested a ton of effort into our preparation and I know the 23 men selected to represent us all on Saturday will do us proud.”
The Wallabies haven’t played South Africa in Johannesburg since a record 8-53 defeat in 2008 and haven’t won at Ellis Park since 1963.
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Kurtley Beale.
Date: Saturday, July 20
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT; 01.05 AEST Sunday, July 21)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)