Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has announced his team to play Wales in Saturday’s James Bevan Trophy and Spring Tour clash at Millennium Stadium.
Cheika has remained consistent with the starting XV chosen to play the All Blacks three weeks ago, with the inclusion of Ben McCalman and debutant Sean McMahon for the injured Scott Higginbotham and Scott Fardy.
McMahon’s selection caps off a remarkable year for the 20-year-old Melbourne Rebels backrower in which he was also awarded the Super Rookie of the Year, NRC Player of the Year, and Australian Under 20s Player of the Year.
“Going into the Barbarians match it was made clear that players had an opportunity to push their way into the Test team with a strong performance,” Cheika said.
“Sean made the most of his opportunity and brought great work-rate and physicality to our game.
“This selection also recognises the outstanding year he has had at all levels of the game, and he thoroughly deserves the chance to debut for Australia.”
McMahon is one of two uncapped players chosen in the team, with Western Force prop Tetera Faulkner earning a spot on an extended nine-man bench.
Faulkner, 26, is a former Australian Schoolboys, Under 19 and Under 20 representative who has earned 29 Super Rugby caps since debuting for the Western Force in 2011, and has the unique ability to be able to play on both sides of the scrum.
Cheika has again chosen an extended bench which includes hooker James Hanson, props Faulkner and Ben Alexander, locks James Horwill and Will Skelton, backrower Matt Hodgson, scrumhalf Will Genia, flyhalf Quade Cooper and winger Rob Horne.
One player will be omitted from the bench in the lead-up to gameday.
Cheika said the team was looking forward to their first Test match of the Spring Tour.
“I’ve been really pleased with attitude and commitment of the team and by how they have embraced a new environment and way of doing things,” he said.
“Everyone has worked really hard on preparing themselves in the best possible way, and we’re all excited about the opportunity to represent Australia and give our absolute best on Saturday.”
The match is Australia’s second of their five-game Spring Tour, and will be followed by matches against France, Ireland and England.
The Qantas Wallabies commenced their Spring Tour and the Michael Cheika era with an entertaining 40-36 victory over the Barbarians at Twickenham at the weekend.
The Wallabies side to play Wales:
1. James Slipper
2. Saia Fainga’a
3. Sekope Kepu
4. Sam Carter
5. Rob Simmons
6. Sean McMahon*
7. Michael Hooper (c)
8. Ben McCalman
9. Nick Phipps
10. Bernard Foley
11. Joe Tomane
12. Christian Leali’ifano
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper
15. Israel Folau
One player to be omitted