McMahon starts for Wallabies

Date published: June 15 2016

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Sean McMahon will get a fairytale Test start on Saturday, replacing David Pocock in the starting side for this week's clash with England.

The Rebels flanker will have his first start on home soil lining up at number eight, alongside Scott Fardy and Michael Hooper, as one of four changes to the starting side.

His selection means that Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has stuck with his dual openside flanker structure, resisting a move to put in a more traditional type at number eight.

Cheika has replaced both props from the first Test, with Sekope Kepu and James Slipper starting in place of Scott Sio and Greg Holmes.

Sio has dropped out of the 23 entirely, after a disappointing first Test in which the Australian scrum was heavily challenged.

Rob Simmons has failed to overcome a back injury, meaning Brumbies duo Sam Carter and Rory Arnold will partner in the second-row for the first time at Wallabies level.

Cheika has stuck with the Fijian centre duo of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani for the second Test, with Christian Leali'ifano on an extended bench.

In fact, the Wallabies coach has left the backline unchanged from that which ran out in the opening Test in Brisbane last weekend.

Cheika's bench includes Liam Gill, Luke Morahan, Toby Smith, Wycliff Palu and Ben McCalman from outside last week’s 23, with the final reserves make up to be confirmed on Friday.

"Based on last weekend’s performance, we decided that we wanted some new combinations for Saturday’s game," he said.

"Sean never takes a backwards step while James and Sekope add plenty of Test match experience."

Morahan is one that could add to his Test debut, with Cheika opting for an extra back on the bench, unlike the opening Test's six-two split.

"Obviously with his (Morahan’s) selection, we’re looking at a five-three split on the bench as opposed to the six forwards we had last weekend," Cheika said.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper
Replacements (three to be omitted): Tatafu Polota-Nau, Toby Smith, Greg Holmes, James Horwill, Dean Mumm, Wycliff Palu, Ben McCalman, Liam Gill, Nick Frisby, Christian Leali'ifano, Luke Morahan

Date: Saturday, June 18
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 20:00 local (10:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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