Tomane, Fainga’a start for Wallabies

Date published: September 25 2014

Australia have made three changes to their starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with South Africa in Cape Town.

Amongst the backs, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Joe Tomane replace Peter Betham and Rob Horne as the starting wings while up front, Saia Fainga’a is preferred to James Hanson as the injured Tatafu Polota-Nau’s replacement at hooker.

On the replacements bench, there’s also a recall for Benn Robinson who replaces Pek Cowan as the back-up prop.

Coach Ewen McKenzie has also dropped Matt Hodgson from his matchday squad to revert to a more traditional four/three (forwards/backs) split on his bench, which means that Rob Horne joins Nic White and Kurtley Beale as back-line cover.

Tomane will make his first appearance for the Wallabies since their 30-26 victory over Wales in Cardiff last year.

The former NRL player has been sidelined for most of this season with a hamstring injury but joined the Wallaby squad on the Gold Coast two weeks ago.

“We’ve been impressed by how Rob Horne has performed on the wing, but we feel Joe deserves an opportunity to also show us what he has got,” said McKenzie.

“You can never have enough big backs in your side, and the physicality he brings to the game should serve us well against an abrasive Springboks line-up.

“It’s great to add Adam [Ashley-Cooper’s] experience to the squad and we expect him to be refreshed and ready to go after missing our most recent Test against Argentina.”

In the forwards, Fainga’a’s superior set-piece play sees him edging out Hanson, who was in the Wallabies’ run-on side in their 24-23 victory over the Springboks in Perth earlier this month.

Robinson’s elevation to the bench also puts him in line for his first appearance of the year while Ben McCalman makes his second start at number eight after taking over from the injured Wycliff Palu a fortnight ago against Argentina on the Gold Coast.

“The set-piece is always an important area of focus for us, even more so when you play South Africa, and we know the outcome of the scrum and line-out will be crucial to the final result,” added McKenzie.

“We recognise that, and are confident the inclusion of Saia and Benn will offer us the best outcome in this area across the entire 80 minutes.

“They’re both experienced campaigners who have delivered at a high level before, and we expect the same on Saturday night.

“For Saia, we’ve been really impressed with the effort he has put in off the field recently, and he’ll be determined to make the most of this opportunity.

“Benn is someone who we have always said wasn’t out of the selection picture, and we’ve been pleased with the improvements he has made to his game throughout the year.

“We liked what we saw from him at training during the lead-up to the Gold Coast test and he now gets his chance.”

Australia: 15 Israel Folau 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nic White, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Rob Horne.

Date: Saturday, September 27
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kickoff: 17:00 (local, 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)