Tui set to notch first Test cap

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Lukhan Tui is set to make his Test debut after Michael Cheika opted to take a 6-2 bench into the clash with the Springboks.

Cheika's choice to essentially name a whole extra forward pack on the bench means Tui, 21, gets the nod ahead of Henry Speight, who drops out of the 23.

"We brought him (Tui) in earlier on in June and he got a bit of a look at it," Cheika said.

"He realised what was happening with the team, it was a little bit different and a level up from Super Rugby.

"Then he went away for a while and I was quite impressed with how he has been playing NRC, not juts his impact but his involvement.

"He has been getting a lot of involvements, he has been working hard.Lukhan Tui will make his debut in Bloemfontein. Photo: ARU Media"He has got some real strengths that we want to try and develop.

"He has had a good season with the Reds and in a game like this, where forward play is going to be ultra-important, there is no better place to get that Test out."

Tui certainly adds an extra layer of physicality to an already large Wallabies pack.

His carries are choc full of aggressiveness and that's what the Wallabies will need in the closing stages of the clash in Bloemfontein.

Including him gives Cheika some versatility, with Rob Simmons and Ned Hanigan also on the bench.

"We probably just want to work really really hard," Cheika said of the choice to go 6-2.

"We don’t want to have any excuses for not working as hard as we can.

"It doesn’t have to be perfect but we have to work as hard as we can.

"We have nearly a whole forward pack on the bench there, and that sets a precedent.

"You have to go for it from the first whistle to the last."

If Tui gets a run he will be the 24th debutant since the 2015 World Cup.

It comes as some surprise that this number is the exact same as the number of debutants Robbie Deans had used by October 5, 2013, though Cheika's debutants are of a different mould.

They are players picked firmly with an eye to 2019, with only a handful of players - Nick Frisby, Eto Nabuli, Leroy Houston and Kyle Godwin - no longer part of the national setup.

"We said from last year we wanted to change the look of the team, we had a certain age profile and we knew we had guys going overseas," Cheika said.Tui will form part of a 6-2 bench. Photo: ARU Media"And we knew there would be some hard yards in that, and there have been.

"Some positive hard yards and some negative hards.

"But they all come to give you the experience you need.

"The experience these guys are getting now, going from single figure caps to double figure caps etc, it’s valuable experience.

"Also from a mindset point of view, these lads have a great attitude.

"It is about getting that winners mindset, believing in yourself and making sure everyday, we are here to succeed.

"That’s something we want to be about. Making sure we are consistent, not just going through to the 2019 World Cup but for every generation after that."


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


16. Stephen Moore

17. Tom Robertson

18. Allan Alaalatoa

19. Rob Simmons

20. Lukhan Tui

21. Ned Hanigan

22. Nick Phipps

23. Samu Kerevi

The Wallabies take on the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning, 1am AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.