Rugby Championship

Cheika explains selection process for Bok Test

2017-09-28 13:03
Izack Rodda (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has explained his selection process for their Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Cheika has backed three rookies by handing lock Izack Rodda, flank Jack Dempsey and wing Marika Koroibete their first Test starts.

Rodda comes in ahead of Rob Simmons, Dempsey gets the nod ahead of Ned Hanigan and Koroibete, having made his debut off the bench against Argentina a fortnight ago, has been preferred to Henry Speight.

Cheika's reasoning for each of the changes followed a consistent theme.

He believes each player is ready for a chance to show what they've got, having impressed in stints off the bench through the first four matches of the Rugby Championship campaign.

"I just thought I would give him a crack and give him a go," Cheika told the website as he explained Rodda's inclusion.

"Simmons hasn't been poor in any way but maybe how we start, how we finish, it's going to be a big forward battle I would say.

"We'll unleash him out there when he's fresh and ready to go.

"I don't think there is any risk there because he has come off the bench and played well in two big games and I can't see why starting is any different - it's a step along the way."

Dempsey's inclusion in the starting XV is as much about giving the 23-year-old a crack as it is about giving Hanigan a break, having started seven straight Tests since debuting in June.

"I just thought we should change it up," Cheika continued.

"Realistically he (Hanigan) should never had to play seven games in a row from his debut when he wasn't even playing Super Rugby at the start of the year.

"We could have given him a chance, taken him out, give him another chance and let him build.

"But he has done so well. It's a different challenge for him this week."

Cheika also pointed to Dempsey's added physical edge as a point of difference.

"The eyes roll in the back of the head with Jack, if you know what I mean," he said.

"He gets very aggressive and that's what I like. I like that.

"You have to have one or two of those guys in your pack.

"He loves the contact and he loves to get into it.

"That's one of the big reasons I like him as a player.

It's a really big game for him against a physical pack.

"I think he'll go toe-to-toe for sure, he enjoys that part of the game."

The first weekend of October wasn't kind to Koroibete last year, when he was part of a losing Melbourne Storm grand final tilt.

Both he and Cheika will be hoping their on the right side of the ledger this time around.

"I just want to see him get that opportunity," Cheika said.

"He did well in the first game and now starting he will have a chance to prepare himself for the whole week and get ready.

"He still has a bit to work on in terms of finding his lines off set-pieces and things like that but defensively and his work-rate, and stuff like that, he's on the money."

Stephen Moore is the only major change to the bench outside of the straight swaps for the Hanigan, Speight and Simmons, the former skipper coming back in ahead of young gun Jordan Uelese.

Kick-off for Saturday’s Test is scheduled for 17:05.


South Africa



15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes (from): 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Tui, 21 Ned Hanigan, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Samu Kerevi, 24 Henry Speight


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