Friday’s rugby news has McMahon starting, Folau declared fit, Welsh changes and English selection drama.
McMahon in at 7
Flanker Sean McMahon will replace Michael Hooper in Australia’s side to take on Wales at Twickenham in Saturday’s Pool A decider. The selection of McMahon means that Australia will continue to deploy two openside flankers in the back-row, as opposed to promoting number 8 Ben McCalman and moving Pocock to 7.
Wales have also gone with two opensides in their back row, with Justin Tipuric starting the game at 7 and Sam Warburton playing at blindside. The suspended Hooper praised the replacement starter, saying, “He was here on his first Wallaby tour last year and we saw from the outset the guy was really up for it.”
Folau ready to go
Fullback Israel Folau has overcome an ankle injury to take his place in the Wallabies line-up, continuing his good run having not missed a Test through injury since his 2013 debut against the British and Irish Lions. Michael Cheika actually delayed the announcement of his side by five hours, allowing for the post-training confirmation that Folau would be able to play.
Along with the switch at 7, Drew Mitchell will come onto the wing for the injured Rob Horne. Cheika has also opted for the experience of Dean Mumm, who pairs up with Kane Douglas at lock with Rob Simmons moving to the bench.
Wales make six changes
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made six changes to his team for the match against Australia, including the move to switch George North to outside centre as Jamie Roberts’ midfield partner. With North’s position shift, Newport Gwent Dragons player Tyler Morgan drops out of the starting side.
Gatland has also given a first Test start for New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe, who features at full-back, while Liam Williams returns after concussion on the wing. Elsewhere, prop Paul James returns from injury and replaces Gethin Jenkins, Luke Charteris features at lock while Justin Tipuric is to start at 7.
Cipriani in pre-RWC spat
The RFU have confirmed that English five-eighth Danny Cipriani and coach Mike Catt were involved in an explosive training ground spat but have denied that the incident played any part in World Cup selections, where the English team instead opted for Owen Farrell and George Ford.
Catt reportedly twice told Cipriani “I will end your England career”, before being forced to apologise. An RFU spokesman said: “Danny and Mike were involved in a robust conversation on the training pitch following a misunderstanding around a training drill. Both shook hands afterwards and the incident played no bearing on selection.”