Wallabies make four starting changes
October 17, 2013
Will Genia ready to roll once more in New Zealand © Getty Images
Will Genia will become the 39th Wallabies player to play 50 Tests for Australia having been named to start the third Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday. He is just the third scrum-half to reach the milestone, after George Gregan and Nick Farr-Jones.
Peter Betham, meanwhile, will make his Test debut as one of four changes to the starting line-up that recently scored seven tries in a 54-17 victory over Argentina, the New South Wales Waratahs winger selected after the withdrawal of Joe Tomane and Chris Feauai-Sautia due to minor hamstring injuries.
Betham is the 12th Wallabies debutant of 2013, after Scott Fardy, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, Jesse Mogg, Ben Mowen, Scott Sio, Matt Toomua, and Nic White.
Matt Toomua will make his third starting appearance for Australia, replace injured Brumbies teammate Christian Leali'ifano at inside centre, while Scott Fardy absence due to an eye problem sees Ben McCalman promoted from the replacements bench to No.8 with Ben Mowen shifting blindside flanker. Waratahs backrower Dave Dennis and Queensland Reds utility back Mike Harris are both set to make their first appearance of the year having been named on the bench.
"Will has been an amazing servant of Australian rugby for a long time now so it's extremely pleasing for him to reach 50 games, a huge career milestone in any player's career," Ewen McKenzie said of Genia's selection. "He has an incredible drive to see Australia succeed at this level, and you'll no doubt see that in his performance against the All Blacks on Saturday night. I think I speak for everyone when I congratulate Will on reaching the prestigious 50-game honour.
"It will also be a hugely memorable occasion for Peter [Betham], who gets the opportunity to experience his first taste of Test rugby in what will be a very hostile environment against a talented New Zealand team. The reality of rugby is that most players get an opportunity at the misfortune of one of their teammates, but it's about what each individual does with that opportunity that counts the most. That doesn't just apply to Peter but to a number of guys who are receiving a chance this week. There is no better way to make your mark than by playing well against the All Blacks."
McKenzie said his squad was looking forward to the challenge of a third Test against the All Blacks, who are aiming to win a record 30th consecutive game on home soil.
"The All Blacks are the most consistent team in world rugby and their record proves just how formidable they are when playing at home in front of their fans. History indicates that playing the All Blacks is a significant challenge, but you want to be measuring yourself against the best performing teams in the world and we are very much looking forward to that on Saturday night.
"It was pleasing to see us take a step in the right direction against Argentina, but the test for us now is to produce that form week-in and week-out. At this level you need to back-up, play consistently and find solutions to win every game, which has been a large focus for us heading into this match."
Wallabies: Israel Folau; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Peter Betham; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen; James Horwill (captain), Rob Simmons; Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, James Slipper. Replacements: Saia Fainga'a, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Sitaleki Timani, Dave Dennis, Nic White, Mike Harris, Bernard Foley.
Follow live text commentary of the Bledisloe Cup Test between New Zealand and Australia on Saturday, October 19 from 7pm (NZDT), 5pm (AEDT) and 6am (GMT)
Do we actually want a third Bledisloe Cup Test, and if so should it be staged earlier in the year?
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'