Paris: Kyle Godwin has come from the clouds and will make his Wallabies debut at inside-centre with Michael Cheika announcing a plethora of changes for the match against France this weekend.
From the starting XV that took the field in Edinburgh last week only David Pocock, Will Genia, Henry Speight and Tevita Kuridrani remain as 11 new faces come in to get more minutes under their belt against the French.
Wallabies’ thrilling one-point win over Scotland
Australia and Scotland locked horns in Edinburgh with the visitors snatching a 23-22 win in the dying minutes of the game.
Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Michael Hooper, Reece Hodge, Dane Haylett-Petty and Israel Folau have been rested altogether while last week’s starters in Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Lopeti Timani and Bernard Foley have been named on an extended bench as part of Cheika’s plan to freshen them up before the all-important fixture against Ireland in Dublin next week.
Given Moore will come off the bench, Pocock will take over captaincy duties for the first time since August 2012 during Australia’s 27-19 Bledisloe Cup defeat in Sydney.
The Wallabies will field a completely new tight-five with props James Slipper and Allan Alaalatoa joining hooker Tolu Latu in front of Australia’s World Cup final second-row pairing of Kane Douglas and Rob Simmons.
With Hooper rested, it means Pocock will move to No.7, Scott Fardy comes into blindside breakaway and Sean McMahon will make his return from injury with a shot at No.8.
Brumbies duo Speight and Kuridrani keep their spots in the backline but are joined by winger Sefa Naivalu and a new fullback in Luke Morahan.
And then there is Godwin, the Western Force centre who will take his services to the Brumbies next year.
Godwin will also become the 13th Wallabies debutant of 2016 which is the second highest tally in the professional era since the 14 players who debuted in 2005.
Cheika has instilled faith in Godwin to replace Hodge as a second playmaker and says he been impressed with him from day one since he came into camp.
“I happened to coach him on the 2014 tour [and] didn’t know a lot about him and I thought he was outstanding,” Cheika said.
“We made a decision this year to keep bringing him in the camp and just keep driving him because he’s got a lot of talent and he’s been really good this year for us. A little bit like Morahan, he’s been training hard.
“Hasn’t got the run and I think this is the time to do it. He’s a player they [France] won’t know either so it’s something different for them to look at. He’s a solid defender and I just think he’s ready for it.”
Cheika insisted he was not giving caps away for free by resting more than two-thirds of his previous starting XV for the match against France, which does not count towards Australia’s quest of achieving the grand slam – something that has not been done since 1984.
Five players – Latu, Alaalatoa, Godwin and Naivalu – will make their run-on debuts.
“You don’t give away a starting jersey for Australia lightly,” Cheika said. “Allan hasn’t started or been in this type of firestorm before and it’s going to be a huge challenge. We’re better placed to get him experience here against the massive front row they’ll have and he’s got a great attitude.
“Tolu didn’t get a run last week, so I just think it’ll be really good for them to prepare from the start of a game. I know they’re inexperienced as a starting front row… but I’m sure they’ll do a good job.
“Pocock, Fardy, there’s two of the back row from that World Cup final as well. I wanted to try to get a blend of both. I don’t just want to go, ‘here you go young guys, have a game’, I want to give them the opportunity to play with experienced players.
“Allan and Tolu are playing with a relatively experienced back five and Seany, for a young guy, has got a lot of experience. I wanted to do it that way.”
Wallabies XV to play France
1. James Slipper
2. Tolu Latu
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Kane Douglas
5. Rob Simmons
6. Scott Fardy
7. David Pocock
8. Sean McMahon
9. Will Genia
10. Quade Cooper
11. Henry Speight
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Sefa Naivalu
15. Luke Morahan
16. Stephen Moore
17. Scott Sio
18. Tom Robertson
19. Will Skelton
20. Dean Mumm
21. Lopeti Timani
22. Nick Phipps
23. Bernard Foley
24. Taqele Naiyaravoro
(One to be omitted)
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