Rugby

Giant lock debuts for Aussies

2014-06-17 07:24
Will Skelton (nswrugby.com.au)

Sydney - The Wallabies have made two changes for the third and final Test against France on Saturday as they target a clean sweep, with giant lock Will Skelton making his debut.

Australia edged out Les Bleus 6-0 last weekend in a stilted try-less performance in Melbourne to claim the series, following their 50-23 rout in Brisbane.

With the Wallabies holding an insurmountable 2-0 series lead, coach Ewen McKenzie opted to give 2.03m, 140kg second-rower Skelton a start, while Wycliff Palu returns from injury at No 8.

Their inclusion means James Horwill and Ben McCalman drop to the bench.

McKenzie said he was looking forward to seeing what impact Waratah Skelton would bring to the match in Sydney.

"During the series we've already benefited from giving two other locks, Sam Carter and Luke Jones, their first opportunities for Australia," he said.

"The experience they gained will prove invaluable in the long-run and now it's Will's turn to show us what he has got.

"I've been really impressed with his attitude and the contribution he's made to this team since the beginning of the series," he added.

"He's obviously got impressive metrics but he also has a big motor and is particularly skilful, so we're looking forward to seeing how he will impose himself on the game."

There are also two changes to the bench, with Brumbies prop Scott Sio and Waratahs outside back Rob Horne getting their first opportunities in 2014.

Horne comes in for Pat McCabe, who has suffered a nerve compression injury to his shoulder, while Sio replaces the Western Force's Pek Cowan.

Saturday's victory over France in Melbourne was Australia's sixth consecutive win, with the team now targeting a seventh - a feat last achieved in the 1999/2000 seasons.

"During this stretch we've spoken a lot about ensuring we are meticulous with our preparation so that we put ourselves in the best possible position to play at a high level every week," said McKenzie.

"Our desire is to always play an up-tempo brand of rugby and we've now scored 23 tries in the past six games, an average of almost four a game.

"Our defence has also been steadily improving with each match, culminating with a shut-out of the French in our most recent match in Melbourne.

"The challenge and what we are always aiming for is to put both together and that will be our goal when we return to afternoon rugby in Sydney on Saturday."

Teams:

Australia:

15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 James Horwill, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Rob Horne

France:

TBA

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