Wallabies opt for balance in bench

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Sean McMahon will return to the Test 23, getting the nod over Lopeti Timani for Saturday’s Springboks clash, after a week assistant coach Stephen Larkham described as the team’s best this year.

McMahon’s selection gives Australia a 5-3 split on the bench against a forwards-heavy Springboks 23, a move Larkham said gave them more balance.

Drew Mitchell is also set for his Test return, overcoming a groin issue to be named on the bench for the clash.

“It was just better balance for us. Rory [Arnold] gets an opportunity to come off the bench, as does Sean,” he said.

Drew Mitchell will make his Test return. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“Those guys have been training exceptionally well, Rory's played some really good NRC games as well.

“They certainly deserve their opportunity off the bench and the 5-3 versus the 6-2 just gives us better balance in the backline.”

After six consecutive Test losses, five this year, Larkham said this week felt like their best yet in terms of preparation.

“It's been a very good training week,” he said.

“Today maybe a little bit sloppy but it's certainly our best training week since we've been together this year.

“Motivation's high, the energy's high.

“We've carried a fair bit of embarrassment out of the last five games so the guys are very focused on trying to put a good performance out on the paddock.”

Lopeti Timani has dropped off the Wallabies extended bench. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe Wallabies have made just two changes to their starting XV for Saturday’s Test, with Reece Hodge and Dean Mumm into the run-on team, which Larkham said was crucial at the selection table this week.

“I think it's important for the players,” Larkham said.

“Understanding how to play is one thing and then understanding the players around you is another thing.

“Giving these guys another opportunity to work with one another is only going to make it easier for them on the field.

“A lot of the selection came down to making sure the combinations weren't changed too much last week.”

The Wallabies take on South Africa on Saturday at 8:05pm AEST at Suncorp Stadium.

Wallabies team for Springboks

1. Scott Sio (20 Tests)

2. Stephen Moore (c) (107 Tests)

3. Sekope Kepu (68 Tests)

4. Kane Douglas (25 Tests)

5. Adam Coleman (2 Tests)

6. Dean Mumm (48 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (56 Tests)

8. David Pocock (58 Tests)

9. Will Genia (68 Tests)

10. Quade Cooper (59 Tests)

11. Reece Hodge (1 Test)

12. Bernard Foley (32 Tests)

13. Samu Kerevi (3 Tests)

14. Dane Haylett-Petty (5 Tests)

15. Israel Folau (43 Tests)


16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (66 Tests)

17. James Slipper (79 Tests)

18. Allan Alaalatoa (2 Tests)

19. Rory Arnold (2 Tests)

20. Sean McMahon (9 Tests)

21. Nick Phipps (44 Tests)

22. Tevita Kuridrani (36 Tests)

23. Drew Mitchell (70 Tests)


*denotes uncapped player