Sydney - Australia on Saturday head into their final game before leaving for Japan, fielding a makeshift team as key players are kept in cotton wool and others are given a last chance to stake their claim to be in the Rugby World Cup starting XV.

The two-time World Cup winners - runners-up in 2015 - take on a Samoan side ranked just 16 and who only just scraped into this month's tournament after a poor qualification campaign, eventually overcoming minnows Germany in a two-leg playoff.

But they arrived in Sydney on the back of wins over Tonga and a New Zealand Heartland XV, and with knowledge that they have stunned the Wallabies in the city before - winning 32-23 eight years ago in one of their greatest ever triumphs.

Only flyhalf Tusi Pisi remains of that side, but Australia have three survivors in scrumhalf Will Genia, prop Sekope Kepu and utility Adam Ashley-Cooper.

All four will start with Ashley-Cooper keen to focus on the future.

"The guys that were involved in '11 would reflect back on that for sure, you do with losses over your career," he said.

"But it's eight years later now, a long time ago, and all we're focused on is basically putting into practice what we've been doing over the past two weeks."

The last 10 days have been spent in New Caledonia working on fixing the problems that led to a heavy 36-0 defeat to the All Blacks in Auckland last month, with the New Zealand pack outmuscling their arch-rivals.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is expecting a fast and physical game from the Samoans and opted not to play the likes of Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale, Samu Kerevi, Allan Alaalatoa, Christian Lealiifano or Izack Rodda so close to the World Cup.

Instead his team includes six players who are not even going to Japan, along with others on the fringes, like Bernard Foley and Jack Dempsey, who have been handed a final crack at impressing enough to be in the World Cup starting line-up.

Cheika said he had a good idea of what the team would be for Australia's World Cup opener against Fiji on September 21, but the Samoa Test could influence his thinking.

Without naming anyone, he said it was an opportunity for some to "put their hand up to be selected", while the six not going to Japan, like Tom Banks, Luke Jones and Liam Wright, are seen as the future.

"There's 31 going but there's a group who will be staying behind on the ready. They need to be in sync with what we're doing as well," he said.

With Hooper rested, David Pocock will make his long-awaited return from injury, captaining the side in what will be his last Test on home soil after announcing Friday he will retire from the international game after the World Cup.

"We know that without a good team performance, it won't be as special," he said.

Genia, Kepu and Tatafu Polota-Nau will also be playing their last Wallabies game on home soil.

Teams:

Australia

15 Tom Banks, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 David Pocock (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Rob Valetini, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 James O’Connor

Samoa

15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Belgium Tuatagaloa, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Reynold Lee-Lo, 11 Ed Fidow, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Scott Malolua, 8 Afaesetiti Amosa, 7 Jack Lam (captain), 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Kane Leaupepe, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 1 Ray Niuia, 1 Jordan Lay

Substitutes: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Logovi'i Mulipola, 19 Josh Tyrell, 20 Seilala Lam, 21 Dwayne Polataivao, 22 AJ Alatimu, 23 Ah See Tuala