The first Wallabies Test team under new coach Michael Cheika has been named, and the Waratahs mentor has barely tinkered with the vanquished Ewen McKenzie’s preferred line-up – aside from calling up young gun flanker Sean McMahon to make his debut against Wales at Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The 20-year-old Melbourne Rebels tyro has replaced the injured Scott Fardy on Australia’s blindside, while the only other change to the starting line-up that went down to the All Blacks in heartbreaking fashion three weeks ago is also in the backrow, with Ben McCalman coming in for injured No.8 Scott Higginbotham.
McMahon, who came off the bench in Australia’s narrow win over the Barbarians, was earmarked for a bright future after claiming the Super Rugby Rookie of the Year, NRC Player of the Year and Under-21 Player of the Year awards at last month’s John Eales Medal night. But his elevation to the starting Test side has come much earlier than anticipated.
Meanwhile, the winner of the John Eales Medal, Israel Folau, will be out to snap an unfamiliar six-Test try drought.
Will Genia, recalled ahead of Nic White, and Quade Cooper, who was not used during the clash with New Zealand in Brisbane, will be itching for an opportunity to impress off the bench with one eye on reclaiming the No.9 and 10 jumpers prior to the 2015 World Cup.
Also in the reserves contingent is uncapped Western Force prop Tetera Faulkner, who is line to make his Test debut at the age of 26.
WALLABIES LINE-UP 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
Reserves (one to be omitted): James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner, Ben Alexander, James Horwill, Will Skelton, Matt Hodgson, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Rob Horne.
Australia v Wales, 1:30am (AEDT), Sunday 9 November, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.