Cooper, Palu return for Wallabies

Date published: August 13 2015

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has made six changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup decider in Auckland.

Playmakers Quade Cooper and Matt Toomua replace Bernard Foley and Matt Giteau in the midfield, while Will Skelton switches with Dean Mumm to start the match with James Horwill in the second row.

Brumbies Nic White and Henry Speight, as well as Waratahs number eight Wycliff Palu, have all been named in the run-on side for the first time in 2015. 

Kane Douglas will also play his first match for the Wallabies since 2013 from the bench, after returning from Ireland on a long-term contract with the Australian Rugby Union.

“We know this week will be another huge challenge for the team and our biggest test to date, and we need to improve again on what we’ve produced in our previous matches," said Cheika.

“Wycliff, Henry and Kane have all worked hard for this opportunity and have brought a lot of energy to the group this week.”

Wallabies backrower David Pocock will celebrate his milestone 50th Test for Australia from the reserves bench; a monumental feat for the 27-year-old, who missed the last two international seasons due to injury.

Pocock reaches the 50-game mark in his eighth season of Test rugby, having made his international debut for Australia off the bench against New Zealand in Hong Kong in 2008.

Cheika was full of praise for Pocock, who has been one of the Wallabies’ best in 2015.

“David has had to overcome some hurdles with regards to injury to reach this milestone but the way in which he’s got there through perseverance and a lot of hard work and patience is a great measure of his character," said the coach. 

“He has been one of our best players this season, and the respect he commands from his teammates and peers is a testament to the way he approaches the game. 

“He knows that he will play a pivotal part in closing the match on Saturday night, and I expect he will put in a performance that all of Australia will be proud of.”

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Kane Douglas, 21 David Pocock, 22 Matt Giteau, 23 Kurtley Beale.

Date: Saturday, August 15
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT, 17:35 AEST)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)