Timani gets first Wallaby start

Date published: October 6 2016

Lopeti Timani will start at number eight as he replaces the injured Sean McMahon for their clash with Argentina at Twickenham.

Timani came off the bench against Argentina in Perth last month but missed out on the matchday 23 for last week’s Pretoria Test.

Leroy Houston’s 11-year wait for a Wallabies debut is one step closer to ending, with the Reds recruit named on an extended bench for the Twickenham clash.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said earlier in the week that Timani had earned the first crack at the number eight spot, in a shift back to a more traditional back-row.

“I think that he warrants the opportunity and we want to trial him,” Cheika told the official Australian Rugby website.

“We need a player with that profile and he did well when he came on in the first game against Argentina so with a start, he’ll a bit more detail he’ll have to keep in his head but he’ll be fine.

“I think with the profile of the other players we have like the sixes, they’re more of the jumping type sixes, that ball carrying eight, that Wycliff Palu style player is something we want to have as well, so won’t be able to do both.

“Leroy’s quite an abrasive runner as well so. It’s a great opportunity to see him step up and how he’ll go with the step up.”

The inclusion of Rory Arnold is the only other change to the starting team, making up the tallest Wallabies combination in history, with the 208cm Brumbies lock pairing with 205cm Adam Coleman.

Rob Simmons has been dropped out of the matchday squad for the third time this season, after being axed in June and during the Rugby Championship as the Wallabies search for their ideal second-row.

In a surprise on the bench, Cheika has opted for both Allan Alaalatoa and Tom Robertson, with 82-Test prop James Slipper the casualty.

Alaalatoa has played tighthead for the Wallabies, but spent much of his Super Rugby season on the loose side of the scrum, giving Australia some handy versatility at scrum time.

This will be the first Test Slipper has missed since last year’s World Cup pool match with Uruguay and just the second in which he has played no part since 2012.

Captain Stephen Moore will draw level with George Smith as the fourth-most capped Wallaby, in his 111th Test.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio
Replacements (one to be omitted): 16 James Hanson, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Leroy Houston, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tevita Kuridrani, 24 Sefa Naivalu

Date: Saturday, October 8
Venue: Twickenam Stadium, London
Kick-off: 19:30 local (18:30 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle (England), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)