Cheika switches locks for final Test

2016-06-23 06:37
Michael Cheika (Gallo)

Sydney - Coach Michael Cheika revamped his second row and recalled centre Matt Toomua Thursday as the Wallabies look to salvage some pride in the third and final Test against England in Sydney.

Giant lock Will Skelton and inside back Toomua return to the international arena for the first time this season, while experienced lock Rob Simmons regains his place after being dropped for the second Test in Melbourne.

Play-making Toomua returns after a six-week lay-off with a knee injury to start at inside centre, while Skelton is back to full fitness after recovering from a long-term shoulder problem.

It means centre Samu Kerevi and locks Sam Carter and Rory Arnold lose their places in the match-day squad.

England have already clinched their first series in Australia after victories in Brisbane and Melbourne, meaning the Wallabies are now playing to avoid a humiliating whitewash at home.

Cheika said he selected Toomua to add a second ball player to his attacking options.

"He's an experienced player, he plays in that role as second playmaker for us, so it was a logical choice,' Cheika told reporters.

"He came back and we probably could have spun him out last week, but I think he needed more running in his legs. There's a long way to go yet in this season so I didn't want to burn him early."

Cheika has also showed faith in Skelton, who has been put through a rigorous training regime to ensure he was fit enough to partner Simmons.

"He's a big guy, if he's not at that fitness he can't play international footy," he said.

Cheika added that 61-Test veteran Simmons had responded well after being axed from the squad last week and was fired up for the game on Saturday.

"He was stung by being left out of the team, and he was very clear on the areas I wanted him to improve on ," he said. "He's bitten back at training and I think that warrants an opportunity for him, considering his track record."

After two demoralising losses Australia are under pressure, and Cheika said the final England Test was an opportunity for his team to "show the character I know they have on the field".

"We will continue to play rugby in our attacking style and we'll be aiming to do it with more consistent quality than we have in the first two matches," he said.

Australia named an extended bench which includes powerful winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, who made his debut against the United States in Chicago last season and scored a try with his first touch of the ball.

Uncapped Western Force lock Adam Coleman has also been named on the bench, with Cheika to finalise his 23-man match-day squad later this week.



15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 James Slipper

Substitutes (one player to be left out): Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio, Greg Holmes, Adam Coleman, Dean Mumm, Wycliff Palu, Nick Frisby, Christian Leali’ifano, Taqele Naiyaravoro



Read more on:    wallabies  |  michael cheika  |  rugby


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