Qantas Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has announced his team to play Wales in Saturday’s James Bevan Trophy and Spring Tour clash at Millennium Stadium.
Cheika has remained consistent with the starting XV chosen to play the All Blacks three weeks ago, with the inclusion of Ben McCalman and debutant Sean McMahon for the injured Scott Higginbotham and Scott Fardy.
McMahon’s selection caps off a remarkable year for the 20-year-old Melbourne Rebels backrower in which he was also awarded the Asteron Life Super Rookie of the Year; Buildcorp NRC Player of the Year and Australian Under 20s Player of the Year.
“Going into the Barbarians match it was made clear that players had an opportunity to push their way into the Test team with a strong performance,” Cheika said.
“Sean made the most of his opportunity and brought great work-rate and physicality to our game.
“This selection also recognises the outstanding year he has had at all levels of the game, and he thoroughly deserves the chance to debut for Australia.”
McMahon is one of two uncapped players chosen in the team, with Western Force prop Tetera Faulkner earning a spot on an extended nine-man bench.
Faulkner, 26, is a former Australian Schoolboys, Under 19 and Under 20 representative who has earned 29 Super Rugby caps since debuting for the Western Force in 2011, and has the unique ability to be able to play on both sides of the scrum.
Cheika has again chosen an extended bench which includes hooker James Hanson; props Faulkner and Ben Alexander; locks James Horwill and Will Skelton; backrower Matt Hodgson; scrumhalf Will Genia; flyhalf Quade Cooper; and winger Rob Horne.
One player will be omitted from the bench in the lead-up to gameday.
Cheika said the team was looking forward to their first Test match of the Spring Tour.
“I’ve been really pleased with attitude and commitment of the team and by how they have embraced a new environment and way of doing things,” he said.
“Everyone has worked really hard on preparing themselves in the best possible way, and we’re all excited about the opportunity to represent Australia and give our absolute best on Saturday.”
The match is Australia’s second of their five-game Spring Tour, and will be followed by matches against France, Ireland and England.
The Qantas Wallabies commenced their Spring Tour and the Michael Cheika era with an entertaining 40-36 victory over the Barbarians at Twickenham at the weekend.
The Qantas Wallabies side to play Wales for The James Bevan Trophy at Millennium Stadium on Saturday 8 November is:
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds- 59 Tests)
2. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds – 32 Tests)
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs – 48 Tests)
4. Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies – 8 Tests)
5. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds – 46 Tests)
6. Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels – Uncapped)*
7. Michael Hooper (c - NSW Waratahs – 38 Tests)
8. Ben McCalman (Western Force – 34 Tests)
9. Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs – 24 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs – 14 Tests)
11. Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies – 12 Tests)
12. Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies – 14 Tests)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies – 17 Tests)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs – 100 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs – 25 Tests)
James Hanson (Queensland Reds – 5 Tests)
Tetera Faulkner (Western Force - Uncapped)*
Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies – 69 Tests)
James Horwill (Queensland Reds – 56 Tests)
Will Skelton (NSW Waratahs – 4 Tests)
Matt Hodgson (Western Force – 9 Tests)
Will Genia (Queensland Reds – 55 Tests)
Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds – 50 Tests)
Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs – 22 Tests)
**One player to be omitted