Qantas Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu will play his milestone 50th Test for Australia in Saturday’s (7am Sunday morning AEDT) Trophée des Bicentenaires and Spring Tour clash against France at Stade de France.
The talented 28-year-old will become just the sixth prop in Australian Rugby history to reach the 50-game milestone, joining a group which includes Ben Alexander (70 games), Benn Robinson and Al Baxter (69 games), James Slipper (60 games) and Ewen McKenzie (51 games).
Kepu will reach the mark in his seventh year of Test Rugby after making his debut against Italy in 2008, with the honour adding to an already special season which also included winning a maiden Super Rugby title for the NSW Waratahs.
Qantas Wallabies coach Michael Cheika congratulated Kepu on his achievement.
“Sekope has been a great player for Australian Rugby over a long period of time and I speak for everyone when I congratulate him on this very special milestone,” Cheika said.
“He has proudly represented the Wallabies for seven years and the experience he now brings to this team is invaluable. He still has plenty of improvement in his game and I’m confident his best years of Rugby are ahead of him.”
(Sekope Kepu will play his 50th Test for Australia. Source Getty Images)
Kepu’s selection comes as part of a starting line-up which includes just one change to the team which beat Wales 33-28 at Millennium Stadium at the weekend.
The change sees lock James Horwill come into the starting XV in place of Sam Carter, highlighting the improved depth of the Wallabies’ second-row.
The Qantas Wallabies bench has yet to be finalised and will be confirmed and announced in the lead-up to the match.
Cheika said he was expecting a vastly different French team to the one Australia swept 3-0 during the June Test series.
“The French have a completely different mindset when they are playing at home, as well as some exciting new players in their squad, and we are under no illusions as to the intensity they are going to bring to the game,” he said.
“For us, it is still early days and we are getting used to a new system in attack and defence. I was happy with the first steps we took against Wales.
“The challenge for us this week was to ensure that we raised the bar much higher in terms of our accuracy and intensity at training.
“We really want to do Australia proud against France this weekend.”
The match is Australia’s third of their five-game Spring Tour, and will be followed by matches against 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, before toppling Wales 33-28 at Millennium Stadium.
The Qantas Wallabies side to play France for the Trophée des Bicentenaires at Stade de France on Saturday 15 November is:
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds- 60 Tests)
2. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds – 33 Tests)
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs – 49 Tests)
4. James Horwill (Queensland Reds – 57 Tests)
5. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds – 47 Tests)
6. Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels – 1 Test)
7. Michael Hooper (c - NSW Waratahs – 39 Tests)
8. Ben McCalman (Western Force – 35 Tests)
9. Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs – 25 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs – 15 Tests)
11. Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies – 13 Tests)
12. Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies – 15 Tests)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies – 18 Tests)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs – 101 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs – 26 Tests)
16. James Hanson (Queensland Reds – 6 Tests)
17. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs – 69 Tests)
18. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies – 70 Tests)
19. Will Skelton (NSW Waratahs – 5 Tests)
20. Matt Hodgson (Western Force – 10 Tests)
21. Will Genia (Queensland Reds – 56 Tests)
22. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds – 50 Tests)
23. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs – 23 Tests)