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Qantas Wallabies named for second Test of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour

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By Qantas Wallabies Media Unit

Brumbies front-rower Ben Alexander will become just the 38th Australian to feature in 50 Tests after being named today as part of the Qantas Wallabies side to take on the British & Irish Lions in Melbourne on Saturday evening.

Three Wallabies received their introduction to Test rugby last weekend, taking the number of players whom have represented the country in the 549 matches that have been recognized by the Australian Rugby Union as Tests to 869.


Thus this weekend’s achievement places Alexander among the four percent of all Australian representatives who have been able to reach the 50-Test milestone.

Saturday night’s match, at a sold out Etihad Stadium, is the second of the three Test series in the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour, with Australia needing to win to keep the race for the Tom Richards Cup alive.

Last weekend’s 21-23 loss in the opening Test in Brisbane came at a cost for the Wallabies.

Today’s line-up features two backline changes to the run on XV as Kurtley Beale returns to the starting fullback spot, while Joe Tomane resumes on the left wing, replacing the injured Berrick Barnes (head knock) and Digby Ioane (shoulder) respectively.

Midfielder Rob Horne (14 Tests) and the uncapped fullback Jesse Mogg have both been added to the bench. The pair have already tangled with the Lions on this tour, appearing for the NSW Waratahs and Brumbies respectively.

While replacement back Pat McCabe has also been ruled out after suffering a blow to his neck at Suncorp Stadium, his Brumbies team-mate Christian Leali’ifano has been cleared to resume, after his Test debut in Brisbane was cruelly cut short in the opening minute following a midfield collision with Wales and Lions inside centre Jonathan Davies.

Leali’ifano received the green light after undergoing the extensive post-concussion tests required by the IRB protocols, and will resume the goal-kicking role, which fell to James O’Connor and Beale in his absence.

The 25-year-old had long looked forward to the Melbourne Test, having been raised in Victoria and played his junior Rugby for the Northcote Panthers club.

The inclusion of Tomane represents a second Test cap for the Brumbies winger, over 12 months after he made his debut for Australia on a wintery night against Scotland at Newcastle on June 5, last year.

Tomane was subsequently selected for the Wallabies side that faced Wales in Brisbane, four days later, but was forced to withdraw after sustaining an ankle injury at training in the lead-up to that game.

The injury, which reoccurred during the closing round of Super Rugby, subsequently denied him further access to Test rugby last year, while this year’s re-entry was delayed by a toe injury that was sustained in training during the Wallabies’ pre-Test series camp on the Sunshine Coast.

As with last week’s Test debutant Israel Folau, Tomane has strong Melbourne connections.

The former Australian Schools rugby union representative dabbled in rugby league, being part of a playing roster which also included Folau, at the Melbourne Storm during the first of his two seasons at the club in 2008.

Tomane, who was born in New Zealand but raised in Australia, returned to rugby union last year after four seasons in the 13-man code.

Folau last week became just the 19th Wallaby to score two or more tries on Test debut and will be gunning for more as he returns to Etihad Stadium for the first time since 2009 when he played rugby league for the Brisbane Broncos against his former club, the Melbourne Storm.

Only one player: NSW Waratahs winger Owen Crossman, has scored two tries on debut for Australia, and followed it up with a try second time up.

Crossman, who scored his ‘debut double’ against the New Zealand Maori in 1923, went on to post a try in each of the second and third Tests of that series.

The Australian forward pack for Saturday night is unchanged from the unit that featured in the opening Test, with the selection of Alexander the feature, as the 28-year-old becomes just the fourth prop to appear in 50 Tests for the Wallabies.

Alexander joins Al Baxter (69), current front-row partner Benn Robinson (57) and Ewen McKenzie (51) as the only players to have achieved the mark; with his completion of this achievement meaning that Australia will, for the first time, enter a Test match with all three starting front-rowers having played in excess of 50 Test matches.

Hooker Stephen Moore, who packs down between Robinson and Alexander, is already the most capped Australian in that position: on Saturday he will play his 78th Test match.

The match is the 550th played by the Wallabies to have been awarded Test match status by the Australian Rugby Union.

This includes a number played between 1920 and 1928 where NSW represented Australia due to rugby being suspended in Queensland following the end of the first World War.

The Qantas Wallabies team to play the British & Irish Lions in second Tom Richards Cup Test on Saturday at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne (kick-off: 8.05pm AEST, 11.05am UKST) is:

15. Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels)
14. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)
12. Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies)
11. Joe Tomane (Brumbies)
10. James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels)
9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)
8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)
6. Ben Mowen (Brumbies)
5. James Horwill (Queensland Reds, captain)
4. Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs)
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)

Run on Reserves:

16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
18. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
19. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
20. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds)
21. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels)
22. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
23. Jesse Mogg (Brumbies)

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Romain Poite (France)

Australia v British & Irish Lions – Historical Notes

  • The first official Test match played by Australia occurred against a side representing Great Britain at the Sydney Cricket Ground on June 24, 1899, and saw Australia prevail 13-3. 114 years on, the British & Irish Lions are appropriately the opposition again, as a side representing Australia plays its 550th Test.
  • This will be the 22nd Test played between sides representing a combined Great Britain and Australia since the inaugural game, which Australia won at the Sydney Cricket Ground, on the 1899 tour. The ‘Lions’ bounced back to win that series, three Tests to one.
  • To date, the British & Irish Lions teams have won 16 matches and Australia five.
  • In five of those 16 defeats, Australia was held scoreless.
  • Last weekend’s two-point victory in Brisbane replicated the 2001 tour but the Lions’ 29-13 success in the opening Test of that tie did not lead to a series victory, with Australia recovering to win the final two games in Melbourne and Sydney.
  • The most recent tour prior to 2001, in 1989, also saw the team that lost the opening Test bounce back to win the series, with the Lions recovering to win the final two games after Australia had opened with a commanding 30-12 win in Sydney.
  • While Australia’s 35-14 win in the second Test of 2001 represented the first instance of a Lions Test in Melbourne, the combined side had previously been a frequent Melbourne visitor, calling on the Victorian capital during the 1888, 1899, 1930, 1959, 1966 and 1989 tours.
  • The highest score conceded by the Lions on a tour of Australia was actually let in against Victoria on the 1930 trip. Although the locals posted 36 points, it wasn’t enough to win the game, with the Lions scoring 41. The game was, perhaps appropriately, played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Referee Notes – Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Age: 35
Test Debut: 2005
Tests: 42

  • Referee Craig Joubert of South Africa, who officiated in three of Australia’s Tests last term, has controlled 11 previous matches featuring the Wallabies.
  • Overall, Australia has won four, drawn one and lost six under Joubert. The six defeats were consecutive – five against New Zealand and an 18-35 loss to England in London on the 2010 Spring Tour.
  • Last year, Joubert was the referee when Australia beat Wales 20-19 at Sydney in June, Argentina 25-19 at Rosario, and for the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane which resulted in an 18-18 draw.
  • He was referee for the Rugby World Cup semi-final between Australia and New Zealand at Auckland in 2011, officiating in his first RWC Final the following weekend.
  • Joubert made his Super Rugby debut in 2005 and his Test debut later that same year. He had made his first class debut as a referee in South Africa in 1999 at the age of 22.

Ben Alexander – Brief Biographical Notes

Age: 28
Tests: 49
Tries: 3
Debut: v France, Sydney, 2008
Super Rugby: Brumbies
Appearances: 77
Tries: 16
Previous clubs: Western Sydney Rams (Australian Rugby Championship) 2007, Bedford (England, National Division One) 2007-08

Fast Facts:

(i)    During his brief stint at Bedford, Alexander played alongside England and Lions front-rowers Tom Youngs (then an inside centre) and Dan Cole. He then packed down against them in a Test when the Qantas Wallabies beat England at Twickenham last year.
(ii)    Such was his meteoric rise into Test ranks, when Alexander made his run on debut against Italy at Padova on the 2008 Spring Tour (after two earlier Test appearances from the bench), it was the first time he had started a match at either Super Rugby or Test level in his professional career.
(iii)    The seven tries Alexander scored in Super Rugby in 2010 saw him finish that year as the Brumbies leading try-scorer.

Etihad Stadium – Background Notes

  • This will be the 13th Test played by the Qantas Wallabies at Etihad Stadium, with Australia having won 10 and lost only two at the venue.
  • The two defeats were sustained against England (2003) and New Zealand (2010).
  • Etihad Stadium hosted six matches that didn’t feature Australia during the 2003 Rugby World Cup, including the quarter-finals between New Zealand and South Africa (where Robbie Deans was a coach on the All Black staff); and France against Ireland.
  • It was also the venue of Robbie Deans’ first Test in charge as Qantas Wallabies coach in 2008 when Australia beat Ireland 18-12.
  • Is Australia’s only indoor sporting facility capable of hosting the winter outdoor sporting codes.
  • Became the third venue to be used for international rugby in Melbourne when it opened in 2000 after costing $450 million over two years during its construction. Australia had previously played Test matches at Olympic Park and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
  • Is primarily utilised through the winter months as a home ground for Australian Rules football - specifically the Essendon, St Kilda and Western Bulldogs clubs. Is also the home venue for Melbourne Victory of the A-League football championship, and has hosted rugby league events such as Melbourne Storm NRL games and State of Origin, and one day international cricket.
  • Debuted as a rugby union venue for the first ever Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate match between Australia and South Africa in 2000. Then attracted its highest ever crowd for any football code when 56,605 fans roared Australia on during the 35-14 win over the British & Irish Lions during the second Test of the 2001 series.
  • Is also a popular venue for rock concerts, with Robbie Williams playing before a crowd of 58,163 one night in 2003.
  • In 2006, the stadium hosted 50 AFL matches alongside 27 other major events, with over 2.7 million spectators passing through the turnstiles.
  • Has also hosted the ‘international rules’ game played annually between Australia and Ireland.

Australia Tests in Melbourne (* denotes games played at Etihad Stadium)

1958: Australia 13, New Zealand Maori 6
1961: Australia 3, Fiji 3
1994: Australia 20, Italy 7 (Olympic Park)
1997: New Zealand 33, Australia 18
1998: Australia 24, New Zealand 16
2000*: Australia 44, South Africa 23
2001*: Australia 35, British & Irish Lions 14
2002*: Australia 29, France 17
2003*: England 25, Australia 14
2003*: Australia 17, Ireland 16
2004*: Australia 35, Scotland 13
2005*: Australia 69, Italy 21
2006*: Australia 43, England 18
2008*: Australia 18, Ireland 12
2009*: Australia 34, Italy 12
2010*: New Zealand 49, Australia 28
2012*: Australia 25, Wales 23