Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has announced an in-form 23 man line-up for Saturday's opening Test against France.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has announced an in-form 23 man line-up for Saturday's opening Test against France at Suncorp Stadium.
There is no place in the matchday squad for Reds scrum-half and former captain Will Genia.
Following in the footsteps of his father and former Wallaby David Carter, 24-year-old Brumbies lock Sam Carter will become Wallaby No.879 when he makes his Test debut in the starting line-up on Saturday.
It will also be a memorable occasion for prop James Slipper and number eight Wycliff Palu with both set to play their milestone 50th Test match for Australia. For Palu, he will become just the second number eight in Australian Rugby history to reach the mark, behind only Toutai Kefu (57 games).
McKenzie has also chosen a new playmaking partnership with Nic White and Bernard Foley earning their spots at scrum-half and fly-half respectively.
It will be White's third starting opportunity for Australia after playing consecutive matches in the number nine jersey against Argentina and South Africa during the Rugby Championship.
Foley, who earned four caps during his maiden Test season in 2013, has been rewarded for a dominant Super Rugby campaign and will take on the goal-kicking responsibilities in his first starting opportunity for the Wallabies.
McKenzie said form was critical in finalising his 23 man matchday squad.
“We function in a performance environment and so it's important to reward those who have consistently played at a high level over the course of the season,” said McKenzie.
“This year we're in a particularly strong position whereby so many of our players have been performing well for their provinces. The margins are so small but it unfortunately does mean that quality players are going to miss out, which is the case for our opening Test against France.
“However, selection will always be a week-to-week proposition at a Test level and the challenge now is for those players chosen to continue playing at the high level we know they can.”
McKenzie also backed his new playmaking duo to make the most of their opportunity.
“Nic and Bernard are two players who have had a huge influence in the results of their provincial teams over the past two seasons,” added McKenzie.
“I've also been pleased to see their development as playmakers since getting a taste of Test Rugby last year and you can sense they have a real confidence in running a game.
“We have a very specific style of game we want to play – the Wallaby way – and their two skill-sets complement each other in ensuring we can deliver our gameplan on the night.
“They're also established goal-kickers and you can never underestimate the importance of this skill at an international level.”
New Wallabies captain Stephen Moore will lead an experienced front-row of Slipper and Sekope Kepu, while Carter partners lineout-caller Rob Simmons in the two lock positions.
In the back row, vice-captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper reignites his backrow partnership with blindside flanker Scott Fardy, with powerhouse Palu at eight.
Matt Toomua combines with Brumbies teammate Tevita Kuridrani in the midfield, while there is a consistent look to the back-three in wingers Nick Cummins and Adam Ashley Cooper, along with full-back Israel Folau.
Former captain James Horwill is named on the bench, along with in-form Kurtley Beale.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Peku, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 James Horwill, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Pat McCabe
Date: Saturday, June 7
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kickoff: 20:00 (local, 10:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)