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Tatafu Polota-Nau returns to face Ireland

  
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15/11/2013


The Qantas Wallabies have made three changes to their starting forward pack while hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau also makes his return from injury via the bench in Saturday night's (Sunday morning 4.45am AEDT) Lansdowne Cup and third Spring Tour clash against Ireland at Aviva Stadium.
 
Those changes to the starting XV include backrower Scott Fardy returning at blindside flanker, prop Sekope Kepu receiving his second starting opportunity of 2013 at tighthead prop, and the versatile Rob Simmons reverting back to his more accustomed role in the second row.
 
Kepu comes into the starting line-up for fellow tighthead prop Ben Alexander, who is being rested for the match, which also opens the door for NSW Waratahs front-rower Paddy Ryan to receive his first Test opportunity of the year from the bench.
 
Ryan, 25, made his Test debut for Australia against France in Paris last year and has been a continually improving player for the Waratahs since playing his first Super Rugby match against New Zealand's Chiefs in 2011.
 
Joining Ryan on the bench is experienced 44-game Test hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, who is set to put an injury-hit season behind him by playing his first game for the Qantas Wallabies in 2013.
 
Polota-Nau missed almost half the Super Rugby season along with the British & Irish Lions Test series after breaking his arm, while a hamstring injury during The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship delayed his return until now.
 
When at his best Polota-Nau is one of the Qantas Wallabies most damaging forwards and he will be eager to finish the year on a high after playing in 12 of Australia's 15 Tests in 2012.
 
Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said the return of Polota-Nau and the three changes to the starting forward pack would help nullify the combative breakdown focus Ireland was placing on the match.
 
"The breakdown is always a key area to any game, but Ireland has been especially vocal this week on the importance they are placing on attacking us there," McKenzie said.
 
"It will be important for us to be extremely accurate at the breakdown, but overall we've gone with a forward pack that is quite capable of dominating in that area, especially with one of our best operators in Scott Fardy coming back from injury.
 
"We'll be looking forward to the challenge and also to the opportunity of building some momentum by winning back-to-back games for the first time this year.
 
"It will also be exciting to see Tatafu back.  He's in very good physical shape and has worked hard since joining us for the Spring Tour to pick-up the knowledge and detail of how we want to play the game.
 
"In terms of Ben Alexander, we've taken the advice of medical staff that the best option for him this week was to have a rest.  We've listened to that advice and are now looking forward to seeing what Sekope and Paddy do with the opportunities they are being given."
 
McKenzie said it was also a positive sign that he was able to name an unchanged backline for the third straight match of the Spring Tour.
 
"It's pleasing that we are beginning to build strong combinations and partnerships in our backs, including those players on the bench and on the fringes, and we're expecting the more time they spend together the better they will be," he said.
 
"They've been able to find the try line quite a bit over the past month and you can sense they are feeling more comfortable and confident in each other and how we want to play the game.
 
"Still, we're under no illusion that these games are won up-front, and we'll continue to have high expectations that our forwards will provide us with a strong platform from which to play from."
 
The Qantas Wallabies are chasing their first back-to-back victories of 2013 after scoring a convincing 50-20 victory in their second game of the Spring Tour against Italy in Turin at the weekend.
 
If they are successful it would be Australia's first victory at Aviva Stadium since the Qantas Wallabies beat Ireland 30-14 in 2005.
 
The Qantas Wallabies side to play Ireland for The Lansdowne Cup at Aviva Stadium on Saturday 16 November (Sunday 17 November 4.45am AEDT) is:
 
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds - 46 caps)
2. Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies - 88 caps)
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs - 35 caps)
4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds - 34 caps)
5. James Horwill (Queensland Reds - 45 caps)
6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies - 7 caps)
7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs - 25 caps)
8. Ben Mowen (c - ACT Brumbies - 12 caps)
9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds - 52 caps)
10. Quade Cooper (vc - Queensland Reds - 47 caps)
11. Nick Cummins (Western Force - 10 caps)
12. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies - 9 caps)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies - 7 caps)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs - 89 caps)
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs - 12 caps)
 
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs - 44 caps)
17. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs - 64 caps)
18. Paddy Ryan (NSW Waratahs - 1 cap)
19. Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs - 15 caps)
20. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds - 14 caps)
21. Nic White (ACT Brumbies - 8 caps)
22. Christian Leali'ifano (ACT Brumbies - 10 caps)
23. Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies - 6 caps)

The Qantas Wallabies play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this Sunday morning November 17th (4.45am AEDT). All Qantas Wallabies 2013 Spring Tour matches are broadcast live on Fox Sports and Channel Ten.

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