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Qantas Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia returns to the starting line-up for Australia’s final Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship match of 2013 against Argentina in Rosario on Saturday night. (Sunday morning 8.30am AEST)
Genia is the sole change made to the starting XV with the 48-game Test veteran to once again wear the number nine jersey after spending Australia’s past two games on the bench.
NSW Waratahs playmaker Bernard Foley has also been rewarded and is now in line to make his Qantas Wallabies Test debut after earning a spot on the bench. Foley replaces young Reds winger Chris Feauai-Sautia who scored the Wallabies only try in his Test debut last week against South Africa in Cape Town.
The honour for Foley comes after a stellar year at Super Rugby level with the Waratahs, where he cemented himself as their starting flyhalf across all 16 regular season games.
A constant attacking threat and solid defender, Foley also offers plenty of utility value and has the ability to play a number of positions in the backline, including fullback, where he has featured at for the Waratahs in the past.
Foley’s Sevens Rugby background has also aided in his development to this point and he captained Australia during the 2011-12 IRB World Circuit.
Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said he expected both Genia and Foley to positively contribute to the team performance.
“We’re working hard on how we want to play the game and Will is obviously a very experienced player,” McKenzie said.
“We were pleased with the contributions of Nic but Will is proven at this level and we are faced with a very difficult game in a tough playing environment. As a result, we’ve gone for Will’s experience to help get us going and manage the performance.
“We knew Will would respond to being on the bench and work hard to get his place back. He’s been very open minded and focused on the things which will make the biggest difference.
“Foles has been around the edges of the Australian squad for about 12 months now. He had a great year with the Waratahs and keeps on getting better and better. Everyone here has been really impressed with how he goes about his business.
“He is a professional operator, a terrific player and has done everything he can to help the team. It’s only natural that you try and find opportunities for a player like that and we are looking forward to seeing how he will go on the field.
“Most people have seen him play at 10 but he is quite versatile and has a strong Sevens background. He’s pretty talented and can play a lot of positions, while most of the players in our backline are quite flexibility in what they can do.
“We think it’s a good mix for the game and how we want to play, while also covering all the positions.”
Victory is crucial for the Qantas Wallabies on Saturday as they aim to finish their Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship on a high by securing their second victory over Argentina in 2013, following on from their gutsy 14-13 victory in Perth.
A win would also extend Australia’s record winning-streak against Argentina, which currently sits at seven consecutive victories from 2000-2013.
“The reality is we are fighting for the wrong end of the competition, so we have to get out there and make good things happen,” McKenzie said.
“You always get something out of dealing with adversity and I’m confident we will eventually click. We’ve got a good bunch of guys who are working hard, so there aren’t any reasons to expect they shouldn’t put in a good performance this weekend.
“Everyone talks about the colosseum atmosphere and the noise in Rosario. It’s amazing but also daunting and you need to be able to function in that space. We’ll take steps this week to ensure that when the players arrive at the stadium they aren’t surprised.”
The Qantas Wallabies side to play Argentina in the second Puma Trophy and Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship match at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito on Saturday 5 October is:
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
2. Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies)
3. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies)
4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
5. James Horwill (c – Queensland Reds)
6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies)
7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)
8. Ben Mowen (vc - ACT Brumbies)
9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)
10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
11. Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies)
12. Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
17. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
18. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
19. Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs)
20. Ben McCalman (Western Force)
21. Nic White (ACT Brumbies)
22. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies)
23. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)*