Hodge makes first start for Australia

Date published: September 8 2016

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Reece Hodge will make his first start for Australia after being named on the left wing for Saturday's Test against South Africa in Brisbane.

The utility back is one of two changes to the starting XV, with Dean Mumm the other, starting on the blindside flank and pushing Scott Fardy out of the Wallabies' matchday 23 for the first time since last year's Rugby World Cup pool match against Uruguay.

Hodge came off the bench in the second Bledisloe Test, replacing Adam Ashley-Cooper (concussion) and now the 21-year-old will fill the void left by the veteran, lining up on the left wing, with Dane Haylett-Petty shifting to the right edge.

The Rebels utility has been preferred to Drew Mitchell, who will start on the pine for his first Test since the World Cup final and his first rugby match since May.

Hodge is the only new face in the Wallabies backline from that which started against the All Blacks in Wellington, with coach Michael Cheika sticking with the Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley in the 10-12 spots.

Samu Kerevi has also retained his spot at 13 after a solid outing against New Zealand a fortnight ago.

He has shown faith in Adam Coleman, handing the Force rookie his second start in a row, the first time this year that Cheika has selected the same second row combination consecutively.

Brumbies second rower Rory Arnold has been given a bench spot, after overcoming an elbow injury that kept him out of the initial Rugby Championship squad.

Lopeti Timani and Sean McMahon are in the mix for their first berths of the tournament, named on an extended bench, with their fate likely to be determined by whether Cheika opts for a six-two split on the bench.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio 
Replacements (one to be ommitted): 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Sean McMahon, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tevita Kuridrani, 24 Drew Mitchell

Date: Saturday, September 10
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 20:05 (10:05 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens 
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes , Pascal Gauzère 
TMO: Ben Skeen

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