Wallabies team to play Wales announced, eight changes in lineup
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The Wallabies team to play the first Wales Tour Test match in Brisbane on Saturday has been named, with eight changes to the starting line-up after the defeat to Scotland in Newcastle.
Five new forwards and three new backs feature in the starting combinations, with an all-NSW Waratahs front-row.
Queensland Reds second rower Rob Simmons is reinstated for the injured Sitaleki Timani, and loosehead prop Benn Robinson makes his first appearance from injury since the record 59-16 win over France that bookended the 2010 Spring Tour.
Fellow prop Sekope Kepu is also back after an injury enforced break (eye). Tatafu Polota Nau lines up between the pair at hooker.
The fifth alteration to the forward pack is at the back of the scrum where Wycliff Palu returns at No 8, for what will be just his third Test outing since 2009 after a run of injuries.
The return of Palu moves Scott Higginbotham from No 8, to blindside flank.
The backline unit named brings Ashley-Cooper into fullback for Luke Morahan, Rob Horne at centre moving Anthony Fainga’a to the bench, while Pat McCabe also returns to the midfield, taking over from Mike Harris.
Harris, who was one of six to make his Test debut in the Hopetoun Cup defeat by Scotland, has been named on a bench which also includes Brumbies halfback Nic White.
Wales arrive in Australia as the reigning Six Nations champions, having completed its second Grand Slam of the European heavyweights in five years during this year’s competition.
This year’s three-Test series is a first between the two nations, on what is the seventh visit to Australia by the Welsh national side.
The Wallabies have won eight of the nine Tests played between the two sides in Australia, with the sole Welsh victory coming in the country’s debut on Australian soil when Wales won 19-16 at Sydney in 1969.
Saturday night’s match will be the fifth played between the two nations in Brisbane.
The Wallabies team to play in the first Wales Tour Test match for the James Bevan Trophy at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday (kick-off: 8pm AEST) is:
Adam Ashley-Cooper, Joe Tomane, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock (capt), Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.
Reserves: Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Nic White, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris.
This is the 33rd meeting between the two sides. Australia has won 21 of the previous Tests and Wales 10 with one draw.
Saturday night’s match will be the 20th played by the Wallabies at Suncorp. Australia has won 16 of the previous Tests and lost three, all against New Zealand by the narrow margins of seven, four and four points respectively.
Wales haven’t scored a point at Suncorp yet, but have only played once, copping a 31-0 thrashing in 2007.