The Wallabies begin their Spring Tour this weekend and they have pulled some surprises already, ahead of their clash with Wales.
A win against Wales at Millennium Stadium would keep the Wallabies’ hopes of a n historic Grand Slam alive, with Tests against Scotland, Ireland, France and England to come.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has moved David Pocock into six, replacing the suspended Dean Mumm in the match, while Tevita Kuridrani replaces Samu Kerevi at 13.
The Wallabies have gone for experience on the bench, with James Slipper and Scott Fardy both making their returns into the 23 for the Millennium Stadium clash
Australia faces a Welsh team with plenty on the line but missing some of its big-name stars, including flanker and captain Sam Warburton and lock Alun Wyn Jones.
This will be the sides’ first clash since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where the Wallabies held off a Wales barrage after two consecutive yellow cards to help qualify for the tournament quarter-finals.
How to watch
Australia's match with Wales will be on beIn Sports 3 (Foxtel channel 515), kicking off at 1:30am AEDT. A two-week trial pass can be used to stream the game on beIN Sports Bein Connect.
Australia has won its past 11 matches against Wales, though the past 10 have been decided by less than 10 points.
Wales has not won its first Autumn International since 2002, when it defeated Romania 40-3, with a 2006 draw against the Wallabies.
Israel Folau vs Leigh Halfpenny
Israel Folau is staying at fullback for this clash against Wales, though you’d expect to see him move into the midfield at times in attack. Halfpenny is playing his first Test since September 2015, and Michael Cheika admitted earlier this week that the Toulon outside back is certainly considered a threat by the Wallabies.
Tevita Kuridrani + Reece Hodge vs Jonathan Davies + Jamie Roberts.
The centre pairings will be crucial in this match, with the Wallabies giving up almost 50 Tests of experience to their Welsh counterparts, as a combination. Cheika has backed Reece Hodge at inside centre for the second Test in a row, putting a major show of faith in the youngster. Kuridrani, meanwhile, has been given an edict to be more aggressive and more switched on in defence, something that will be vital against Wales.
Where the match will be won
Michael Cheika’s decision to put David Pocock at six will ultimately be a game-defining one. It’s not the first time that the Wallabies have gone small in their backrow but it’s a move that makes it clear the team is backing themselves in the breakdown. Australia’s ability to create turnovers will be decisive in the match, as will be their performance in the lineout. Wales assistant Robin McBryde dismissed the notion that the Wallabies lineout will be weakened by their picks but it does change the dynamic. Whichever side can use their competitive advantage the best will take a major boost.
Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Henry Speight, Israel Folau. Reserves: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Scott Fardy, Nick Frisby, Quade Cooper, Sefa Naivalu
Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens, Samson Lee, Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty, Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar, George North, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny. Reserves: Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, James King, Gareth Davies, Sam Davies, Hallam Amos