Giteau to start for Wallabies

Date published: July 16 2015

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Matt Giteau has been recalled to Australia's starting line-up for Saturday's Rugby Championship opener against South Africa in Brisbane.

Giteau will earn his 93rd Test cap in the number 12 jersey following a four-year absence from the Wallabies line-up.

Playing inside Giteau will be the Queensland pairing of Will Genia and Quade Cooper, who return to the run-on team together for the first time since November 2013.

The returning trio make up three of the four total changes to the team which ran out against England at Twickenham in the final Test of the 2014 end-of year tour, with the other change being the return of Tevita Kuridrani at outside centre.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika is excited about the changes to the team.

“I could not have been happier with the first two weeks of preparation here in Queensland," he said.

"These players know they represent a squad of over 50 players who will have some involvement within the Wallabies program at different stages of the year.”

“With new combinations comes a new level of energy to our team environment and Will, Quade and Matt certainly bring that.

“Matt is a true professional and his impact on the team dynamic has been immediate. His form in Toulon and work ethic since joining the squad has been first class.”

Saturday’s Test also marks the return of two players whose resilience and perseverance has been rewarded, with Wallabies captain Stephen Moore returning to the starting line-up for the first time in over 12 months.

Joining him in the matchday 23 is David Pocock, who will make his long-awaited return from the replacements bench after missing the past two international seasons through injury.

“It has been a huge effort by Stephen to put himself in this position to once again captain his country,” said Cheika.

“David has showed tremendous grit and termination to return to the Wallabies in challenging circumstances. To be out of the Wallabies environment for two years and return a better a player shows his character; it is something he, and this country should be proud of.”

On the bench, Cheika has selected the experienced pairing of former Wallabies captain James Horwill and Greg Holmes, who has not played a Test for the Wallabies in almost eight years.

“If you look through our bench we have some exceptional leaders, with James and David having captained their country at different stages of their careers," added Cheika.

“With leadership comes responsibility as well. The bench will play a pivotal role in ensuring we close out the game as well as we open it."

In his first Test on home soil, Cheika is looking forward to showcasing a new Wallabies era, in one of the country’s most passionate rugby cities, Brisbane.

“We want the Australian Rugby fans to be proud of how we play, and the stage is set for players to put it all on display in front of a very patriotic and proud Queensland crowd at Suncorp Stadium,” he said.

Wallabies: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 James Horwill, 20 David Pocock, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Drew Mitchell.

Date: Saturday, July 18
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 20:05 local (10:05 GMT, 12:05 SAST, 22:05 NZST)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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