Three rookies to make first starts against Springboks

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will throw three rookies into the Bloemfontein furnace, with Izack Rodda, Jack Dempsey and Marika Koroibete all handed their first Test starts.

Rodda comes in ahead of Rob Simmons, Dempsey gets the nod ahead of Ned Hanigan and Koroibete, having made his debut against Argentina a fortnight ago, has been preferred to Henry Speight.

Cheika's reasoning for each of the changes followed a consistent theme.

He believes each player is ready for a chance to show what they've got, having impressed in stints off the bench through the first four matches of The Rugby Championship campaign.

"I just thought I would give him a crack and give him a go," Cheika said of Rodda's inclusion.Izack Rodda will pack down alongside Adam Coleman. Photo: Walmsley"Simmons hasn't been poor in any way but maybe how we start, how we finish, it's going to be a big forward battle I would say.

"We'll unleash him out there when he's fresh and ready to go.

"I don't think there is any risk there because he has come off the bench and played well in two big games and I can't see why starting is any different - it's a step along the way."

Dempsey's inclusion in the starting XV is as much about giving the 23-year-old a crack as it is about giving Hanigan a break, having started seven straight Tests since debuting in June.

"I just thought we should change it up," Cheika said.

"Realistically he (Hanigan) should never had to play seven games in a row from his debut when he wasn't even playing Super Rugby at the start of the year.Jack Dempsey gets his first Wallabies start. Photo: Walmsley"We could have given him a chance, taken him out, give him another chance and let him build.

"But he has done so well. It's a different challenge for him this week."

Cheika also pointed to Dempsey's added physical edge as a point of difference.

"The eyes roll in the back of the head with Jack, if you know what I mean," he said.

"He gets very aggressive and that's what I like. I like that.

"You have to have one or two of those guys in your pack.

"He loves the contact and he loves to get into it.

"That's one of the big reasons I like him as a player.

It's a really big game for him against a physical pack.

"I think he'll go toe-to-toe for sure, he enjoys that part of the game."

The first weekend of October wasn't kind to Koroibete last year, when he was part of a losing Melbourne Storm grand final tilt.Marika Koroibete comes in ahead of great mate Henry Speight. Photo: WalmsleyBoth he and Cheika will be hoping their on the right side of the ledger this time around.

"I just want to see him get that opportunity," Cheika said.

"He did well in the first game and now starting he will have a chance to prepare himself for the whole week and get ready.

"He still has a bit to work on in terms of finding his lines off set-pieces and things like that but defensively and his work-rate, and stuff like that, he's on the money."

Stephen Moore is the only major change to the bench outside of the straight swaps for the Hanigan, Speight and Simmons, the former skipper coming back in ahead of young gun Jordan Uelese.


Wallabies team to tackle the Springboks

1. Scott Sio

2. Tatafu Polota-Nau

3. Sekope Kepu

4. Izack Rodda

5. Adam Coleman

6. Jack Dempsey

7. Michael Hooper (C)

8. Sean McMahon

9. Will Genia

10. Bernard Foley

11. Reece Hodge

12. Kurtley Beale

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Marika Koroibete

15. Israel Folau

Reserves (one to be omitted)

16. Stephen Moore

17. Tom Robertson

18. Allan Alaalatoa

19. Rob Simmons

20. Lukhan Tui

21. Ned Hanigan

22. Nick Phipps

23. Samu Kerevi

24. Henry Speight

The Wallabies take on the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Sunday night, kicking off at 12am AEDT and Sunday 1am AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.