Michael Cheika mixes things up with experimental Wallabies side to play Japan

Stirling Coates Roar Guru

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    The Wallabies have announced the squad they’ve picked to play in Saturday’s Test against the Brave Blossoms on Saturday, November 4.

    With Bernard Foley, Karmichael Hunt and Will Genia all unavailable due to injury, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has had to make some changes to the line-up for the warm-up to the Spring Tests.

    Kurtley Beale has been shifted to fullback, while Matt Philip will make his international debut.

    The calf injury Genia suffered in the win against the All Blacks has kept the scrumhalf off the training track, preventing him from taking his place in the side.

    Nick Phipps – who skippered the side against the Barbarians last week – assumes Genia’s starting job in the halves and also receives the co-vice-captaincy in the absence of both Genia and Foley.

    Karmichael Hunt sustained a neck injury in training on Tuesday, leaving the fullback position open. Some expected youngster Joe Powell to be given a go at No. 15, but Cheika has surprisingly elected to put Kurtley Beale in the position.

    Even more surprisingly, Melbourne Rebels’ fly-half Reece Hodge has been given the No. 10 jersey for this Test, rather than assuming his normal position on the wings or in the centre.

    Henry Speight has slotted into Hodge’s spot on the wing, while Samu Kerevi will start on the field as inside centre.

    The squad’s inclusions include the twice-capped Powell and Curtis Rona, alongside debutant Matt Philip and Ben McCalman, who bring up his 50th Test more than a full calendar year after his last appearance in the green and gold.

    Lukhan Tui (hamstring), Jack Dempsey (hamstring) join Genia, Foley and Hunt on the sideline, while Israel Folau is currently on a sabbatical.

    Japan vs Australia
    Saturday, November 4, 4:40pm (AEDT)
    Nissan Stadium, Yokohoma

    Wallabies team
    1. Scott Sio
    2. Tatafu Polota-Nau
    3. Sekope Kepu
    4. Rob Simmons
    5. Adam Coleman
    6. Ned Hanigan
    7. Michael Hooper (c)
    8. Sean McMahon
    9. Nick Phipps (vc)
    10. Reece Hodge
    11. Marika Koroibete
    12. Samu Kerevi
    13. Tevita Kuridrani
    14. Henry Speight
    15. Kurtley Beale (vc)

    16. Stephen Moore
    17. Tom Robertson
    18. Allan Alaalatoa
    19. Matt Philip
    20. Ben McCalman
    21. Lopeti Timani
    22. Joe Powell
    23. Curtis Rona