A number of regulars return to the Australia team for Saturday’s GUINNESS Series showdown with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.30pm), after being mostly rested for last week’s 25-23 win over France in Paris.
Wallabies boss Michael Cheika has brought the likes of Israel Folau, Sekope Kepu, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge and Rory Arnold back into the starting line-up as his side bid to keep their Grand Slam tour attempt alive.
Rob Simmons will combine with Arnold in the second row, continuing his resumption as Australia’s lineout caller, with Adam Coleman injured against Scotland. Cheika said he felt Simmons was finally beginning to show the aggression he has asked him for, in a year where he has been in and out of the team.
“He’s got huge potential. I know he’s been around for a while but I think that guy has got so much potential. He’s starting to change his mindset towards thinking about playing the game like that,” he said.
“I was actually quite pleased with Kane Douglas’ game the other day – thought it was the best he’s played this season and he looks like he’s starting to get a bit of his ‘mojo’ back. He’s hunting up around there as well. I know we’ve lost Adam but we’ve got some good (options).
“And we’ve got Willy (Skelton) and Sam Carter down in Bordeaux (with the Wallaby XV). We’ve definitely got the numbers there, but I want to build better quality in that (second row) area.”
Lopeti Timani has been a casualty of a greater lineout focus against Ireland, Cheika said, opting to bring Dean Mumm into the blindside flanker role, with Michael Hooper resuming his spot at openside and David Pocock at number 8.
Mumm was suspended for Australia’s clash with Wales and came off the bench in the second tour match against Scotland, with Cheika happy to lean towards Timani’s ball-carrying, but the balance has shifted for Ireland.
He added: “Timani has done absolutely nothing wrong. We want to focus a little bit more on our lineout this week and the threat that Ireland might pose there – they’re very good in that area.
“Dean brings a lot of experience and quality in that area. But then we’ll probably lose a bit of Lopeti’s ball-carrying too. It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other but we decided that was probably an important thing for this game and that’s how we’ll run.”
Timani has been named on an extended bench, with one player to be omitted ahead of Saturday’s encounter, a move that will be dependent on whether the Wallabies want a forwards-heavy six-two split or a five-three make-up.
AUSTRALIA Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2016 GUINNESS Series, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, November 26, kick-off 5.30pm):
15. Israel Folau (Waratahs) 50
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (Force) 12
13. Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies) 43
12. Reece Hodge (Rebels) 8
11. Henry Speight (Brumbies) 9
10. Bernard Foley (Waratahs) 40
9. Will Genia (Stade Francais) 74
1. Scott Sio (Brumbies) 28
2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies) (capt) 115
3. Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) 75
4. Rory Arnold (Brumbies) 8
5. Rob Simmons (Reds) 69
6. Dean Mumm (Waratahs) 55
7. Michael Hooper (Waratahs) 63
8. David Pocock (Brumbies) 64
Tolu Latu (Waratahs) 2, James Slipper (Reds) 84, Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies) 8, Kane Douglas (Reds) 29, Lopeti Timani (Rebels) 5, Sean McMahon (Rebels) 13, Nick Phipps (Waratahs) 51, Quade Cooper (Reds) 65, Sefanaia Naivalu (Rebels) 4.