Michael Hooper (Getty)
Cardiff - Australia coach Michael Cheika
has opted for twin openside flanks in David Pocock and Michael Hooper for their
Rugby World Cup Pool A opener against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium on
Finally revealing his hand after chopping
and changing his team in the run-up to the tournament, Cheika included Pocock
at number eight and Hooper in his normal number seven shirt as he did for the
victory over the All Blacks in early August.
Bernard Foley gets the start at flyhalf and
is paired with scrumhalf Will Genia, who edged out Nick Phipps to claim the
number nine shirt for the first time since the opening match of the season
against South Africa in Brisbane.
With only a four-day turnaround before
Australia's second match of the tournament against Uruguay, Cheika has decided
to prepare two different starting sides.
The 15 picked to take on the Fijians was
always going to be his strongest team and is likely to form the basis for the
line-ups to face England and Wales in the heavyweight pool clashes.
"It's important to give everyone an
opportunity early on," Cheika said. "We've done that throughout our
lead-up to this tournament and I believe it's a good way to go."
Scott Sio has retained his place as
starting loose head prop from James Slipper and will pack down with skipper
Stephen Moore and tighthead Sekope Kepu in the front row.
Rob Simmons will marshal the lineout from
second row alongside Kane Douglas with Scott Fardy at blindside flanker
offering a third jumping option.
Inside centre Matt Giteau will play his
97th test but that makes him only the second-most experienced player in the
side behind Adam Ashley-Cooper, who will start on the wing and win his 109th
Tevita Kuridrani and Israel Folau have
become fixtures at outside centre and fullback respectively, while Rob Horne's
defensive strength has won him the start on the left wing.
Cheika has gone with two locks on the bench
in the hulking Will Skelton and Dean Mumm to counter what he expects to be a
big physical challenge from the Fijians.
"It's great be able to finally pick a
team and get started," he added.
"Our groundwork is done now and we are
eager to get into the battle - a battle we know will be very intense against
this Fiji side."
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita
Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Rob Horne, 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 Scott Sio
Substitutes:16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper,
18 Greg Holmes, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Dean Mumm, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt
Toomua, 23 Kurtley Beale