Pocock on the blindside for Wales

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

David Pocock will complete the backrow trifecta against Wales, lining up at blindside flanker for the first time in his Test career.

Pocock has played eight alongside Michael Hooper when fit in recent times but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opted to start the flanker at six, with Dean Mumm suspended, leaving Lopeti Timani at eight.

Cheika conceded it would leave the Wallabies lacking in height in the lineout, but with Timani playing second row for much of his Super Rugby season, was confident they would be able to combat the Welsh.

“I still think that our lineouts are good and we’ve been working hard on the options. Lopeti’s worked hard on his jump as well, he’s jumped in Melbourne so he’ll have role, a jumping role," he said.

“We believe that we have the right strategy, it’s just about getting ball.

“Wales are quite good at the defensive lineout, they’ve got some tall timber so we’ll have to be on our game to get that but what we’ve got we’ll back that.

“We have to make sure our lineout’s working. We can’t play the game without the set piece.

“We’re very well aware of that. We know that will be a big challenge for us to make sure our lineout is strong in that formation.”

Wales will likely field a dual openside combination as well, with injuries and absences hitting the home side hard this week, and Cheika said the Pocock-Hooper combination was the best fit.

“I just think away from home also [Pocock brings] that extra bit of seniority in the side.

“They [Hooper and Pocock] can share the openside work if they want to and do things differently. That’ll be, I just think that’s the right feel.

“The like for like would’ve been the go with Fardy but I think that Pocock has added qualities that he’ll bring to this game.”

Tevita Kuridrani had a mixed game on Saturday. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyCheika has resisted moving Israel Folau into the starting 13 jersey as well, with Tevita Kuridrani replacing the injured Samu Kerevi for the Welsh match.

“Not at this stage,” he said.

“I think Dane’s [Haylett-Petty’s] also played really well on the wing. I know he’s a fullback by trade but I think he’s really made the most of his opportunities...and I don’t think changing that around was that necessary at this point.”

Hooker Tolu Latu’s meteoric rise from the NRC could be capped with a Wallabies debut against Wales as well, with James Hanson out of the 23, while Cheika has gone back to an experienced group on the bench, with Scott Fardy and James Slipper coming onto the bench for the clash.

TEAM

In: Tevita Kuridrani,Scott Fardy, Tolu Latu, James Slipper

Out: Samu Kerevi (ankle), Dean Mumm (suspended), James Hanson, Tom Robertson

Wallabies starters

1. Scott Sio

2. Stephen Moore (c)

3. Sekope Kepu

4. Rory Arnold

5. Adam Coleman

6. David Pocock

7. Michael Hooper

8. Lopeti Timani

9. Nick Phipps

10. Bernard Foley

11. Henry Speight

12. Reece Hodge

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Dane Haylett-Petty

15. Israel Folau

Wallabies reserves

16. Tolu Latu*

17. James Slipper

18. Allan Alaalatoa

19. Rob Simmons

20. Scott Fardy

21. Nick Frisby

22. Quade Cooper

23. Sefa Naivalu

*Uncapped

The Test between the Wallabies and Wales will be screened LIVE on BeIN Sports 3 (Foxtel channel 515) from 1.00am AEDT on Sunday 6 November. Fans can also LIVE stream the match on Foxtel GO (for Foxtel subscribers).

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