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Folau, Pocock back for Wallabies

2015-10-23 16:55
David Pocock (Gallo)

Teddington - Star duo Israel Folau and David Pocock will start for Australia in their Rugby World Cup semi-final with Argentina on Sunday after recovering from injuries.

Fullback Folau and No 8 Pocock missed the controversial 35-34 quarter-final victory over Scotland last Sunday with ankle and calf problems respectively.

The other change to the starting line-up sees prop James Slipper, who skippered the Wallabies in their warm-up Test against the United States in Chicago, come in for injured Scott Sio.

Slipper, whose intercepted pass five minutes from time last Sunday saw Scotland score a converted try and take the lead 34-32, will be replaced on the bench by Toby Smith.

"James has been pushing for a starting spot with his performances as a finisher and I know he'll take it with both hands," said coach Michael Cheika.

"James is a leader in our squad and has performed well through this tournament so far and in the lead-up matches."

Kurtley Beale and Ben McCalman - who stood in for Folau and Pocock in the quarter-final - revert to the bench in what is the Wallabies sixth appearance in the semi-finals in eight World Cups.

Pocock's back row partner Michael Hooper celebrates a landmark of his own as he will win his 50th Test cap just days away from his 24th birthday.

Wing Drew Mitchell - who like centre Matt Giteau has benefited from the ARU relaxing their rules over players playing abroad being eligible for selection - starts again and needs just one try to equal the World Cup record of 15 held jointly by All Black legend Jonah Lomu and Springbok Bryan Habana, who plays against defending champions New Zealand on Saturday.

Cheika, who has in a year turned the Wallabies from a demoralised disunited squad into a serious World Cup contender, said that his players were ready to take on a vibrant Argentina outfit who dismantled European champions Ireland last Sunday.

"Their heads are in a good state," the 48-year-old coach said.

"This weekend is a great opportunity for the lads to improve on last week and take advantage of the chance to play on such a big stage.

"This weekend we want to make Australia proud of their team."

Hooper, who along with Pocock and fellow flank Scott Fardy been pivotal in Australia's winning streak, said he did not know what to expect of the Pumas.

"We are looking forward to the Argentinian challenge and also guessing what they will bring to the party," said Hooper.

"Not least what their back row will do in varying their tactics."

For Wallaby skipper Stephen Moore, like Giteau winning his 101st cap, the present Argentina side brought a lot more to the table than previous incarnations.

"As a front rower the set piece, the scrum, the lineout and the driving maul will be huge weapons to counter," the 32-year-old told AFP.

"But they have developed a very attacking game, lots of flair and with a strong back three who are very creative and keen to get their hands on the ball, it is now a big part of their game."



15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Kurtley Beale


15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martin Hernandez, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Marcos Ayerza

Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino

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