Cheika challenges Simmons to step up in Japan after Coleman injury

by Sam Phillips

Adam Coleman has suffered a groin injury and will not play in the Wallabies' Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks in Yokohama but both Jack Dempsey and Samu Kerevi are set to make Test returns.

Coleman did not take full part in the Wallabies' double session on Tuesday and his absence means a recall to the starting XV for Rob Simmons in the second row.

Coach Michael Cheika challenged Simmons to lift his physicality when he spoke to reporters in Tokyo on Thursday.

Rob Simmons is set to start for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images"I think Rob’s got a lot to prove here. I think he’s got a lot to prove," Cheika said.

"He’s been there or thereabouts for a long time, there’s some competition in that spot now.

"I think it’s time for him to put his foot down and show he’s got everything required to be a regular starter and in the competition between himself and Rodda and Coleman and Arnold that he puts himself there, not just happy to be there when it’s on, to put himself there as a guy that wants to start for Australia.

Adam Coleman won't play in Japan. Photo: Walmsley"Not just if Adam’s out, that’s important for me."

In more positive news Sefa Naivalu's near 500-day wait between Tests is over.

The Fijian flyer has been named on the wing in place of Israel Folau, who will start at outside centre in Test rugby for the very first time to cover the loss of Reece Hodge.

Naivalu suffered a serious ankle injury in the last Test he played - against Italy in Brisbane last year - after scoring a sensational double.

He hasn't been sighted in the Test arena since, though he has been on the fringes of the wider squad.

Marika Koroibete, Hodge, Jack Maddocks, Dane Haylett-Petty, Folau and Henry Speight have all had their crack on the wing as Naivalu has been forced to watch on as he battled injuries and inconsistent form.

Sefa Naivalu has been working  hard to get back in the Wallabies starting team. Photo: WalmsleyBut with Hodge out, Haylett-Petty at fullback and Folau at No. 13, the Rebels speedster finally gets a chance to make his mark on Saturday.

"He’s got a lot of edge about him at training," Cheika said.

"I have been looking for a way to get him back in. he’s been in and out with injury, he’s had a some problems with his shins.

"He just hasn’t been able to get the top speeds, so once we got him back consistently at top speed which is one of his best values then I think it was a good opportunity to give him a chance back in there."

Cheika has made two changes to his pack outside of Coleman's withdrawal.

Allan Alaalatoa has been promoted to starting loosehead once again in place of Taniela Tupou and Folau Faingaa has earned the nod at hooker with Tatafu Polota-Nau unavailable.

The biggest change on the pine is the inclusion of Dempsey.

The Waratahs backrower hasn't played a second of Super Rugby this season and hasn't played Test rugby since the third Bledisloe last year, a game in which he won man of the match honours.

Dempsey played almost the entire NRC season in his comeback from a horrific hamstring injury and his form showed enough for him to be called into the Bledisloe squad and the initial 24-man group for the match.

He will provide some much needed line bending ability in the second half if and when Cheika calls his name.

"At first I probably didn't know about this game for him but since he has been back training he has looked sharp," Cheika said.

"His physical work has been good and again like Samu he is a player coming back from injury and a much longer injury but he has had four or five games now, he's had a good training load and there is definitely a role for him to play this week without a doubt."

Kerevi has also been recalled despite playing just 30 minutes of rugby - at the Byron Bay Sevens - since June.

One of Pete Samu, Rory Arnold, Tom Banks, Dempsey or Kerevi will be omitted from the 24-man bench.

The All Blacks named their team earlier on Thursday afternoon, with their own list of surprise moves.

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks in Yokohama on Saturday October 27, kicking off at 3pm local, 5pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and RADIO.


Wallabies team to face the All Blacks

IN: Sefa Naivalu, Rory Arnold, Jack Dempsey, Samu Kerevi, Pete Samu (one to be omitted)

OUT: Adam Coleman, Reece Hodge, Caleb Timu, Matt Toomua

1. Scott Sio (51 Tests)

2. Folau Faingaa (5 Tests)

3. Allan Alaalatoa (29 Tests)

4. Izack Rodda (13 Tests)

5. Rob Simmons (90 Tests)

6. Ned Hanigan (17 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (87 Tests)

8. David Pocock (74 Tests)

9. Will Genia (96 Tests)

10. Bernard Foley (64 Tests)

11. Marika Koroibete (17 Tests)

12. Kurtley Beale (80 Tests)

13. Israel Folau (69 Tests)

14. Sefa Naivalu (7 Tests)

15. Dane Haylett-Petty (27 Tests)


16. Tolu Latu (9 Tests)

17. Sekope Kepu (99 Tests)

18. Taniela Tupou (8 Tests)

19. Rory Arnold (18 Tests)

20. Jack Dempsey (6 Tests)

21. Pete Samu (7 Tests)

22. Nick Phipps (69 Tests)

23. Samu Kerevi (21 Tests)

24. Tom Banks (3 Tests)

*one to be omitted