David Pocock will make his return to rugby as captain of the Wallabies this weekend, as Michael Cheika revealed his side to play Samoa.
Pocock hasn’t played top-level rugby since a Super Rugby outing for the Brumbies in early March, and the hit-out at Bankwest Stadium will give the star back-rower a chance to get some much-needed gametime before heading to the Rugby World Cup.
The rest of the side is a mix of those expected to feature heavily in Japan, such as Lukhan Salakaia-Loto at blindside flanker, Adam Coleman at lock, Marika Koroibete on the wing, and Scott Sio and James O’Connor on the bench, as well as fringe players and those not even in the World Cup squad.
Tom Banks is one of those who missed out on selection for Japan but was picked for Saturday’s game, set to start at fullback, joined by Rob Valetini, Nick Phipps, Liam Wright and Luke Jones on the bench.
For Sekope Kepu and Tatafu Polota-Nau, the match will be the final Test outings on Australian soil for the experienced front-rowers, both of whom are retiring from international rugby this year.
Polota-Nau will come off the bench, with youngster Jordan Uelese to start in the no.2 jersey, but the experienced hooker said he’s pleased to see the depth Australian rugby has in the position.
“It’s awesome to see the depth of hookers in Australian rugby grow from strength to strength, in particular the gentlemen that have been selected, so much that it’s resulted in me missing selection for Japan. However, I’m pleased that I can contribute by helping to prepare the lads before they take off on their biggest mission,” Polota-Nau said.
“I’ve been very fortunate to wear the Gold jersey for as much as I have, and have cherished every single opportunity that I have worn it.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank every person that has been involved with my Rugby journey, both in the game and away from it. It’s definitely been a privilege to take the field knowing I have represented them to the best of my ability, regardless of the result.
“It’s quite fitting that, likely, my last international game will be at Bankwest Stadium, where it all began for me with the Western Sydney Two Blues. I do hope in the near future that the game I’ve been fortunate to help grow and love, can have a big impact within this region for the sport to grow.”
1. James Slipper (90 Tests)
2. Jordan Uelese (3 Tests)
3. Sekope Kepu (105 Tests)
4. Rob Simmons (97 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (33 Tests)
6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (15 Tests)
7. David Pocock (c) (77 Tests)
8. Jack Dempsey (11 Tests)
9. Will Genia (vc) (104 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (69 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (23 Tests)
12. Matt To’omua (46 Tests)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (118 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (32 Tests)
15. Tom Banks (5 Tests)
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (89 Tests)
17. Scott Sio (58 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (15 Tests)
19. Luke Jones (5 Tests)
20. Liam Wright (1 Test)
21. Rob Valetini*
22. Nick Phipps (71 Tests)
23. James O’Connor (47 Tests)