Michael Cheika doesn’t want to choose a World Cup squad of 31 still wondering. Today he will announce a Wallabies team for the vital Bledisloe decider in Eden Park that has one eye placed firmly on giving Bill their best shot.
Into the starting lineup will come Quade Cooper at 10, for whom G&GR believes this is last chance saloon. Can he conquer his big game nerves against the All Blacks in a cauldron of hate? We’ll find out on Saturday night.
Quade will partner Matt Toomua at 12 and be served by Nic White. There are probably not many coaches who have scrambled a halves combination that just beat the All Blacks, but so it is this weekend.
Covering all these players and the back three will be Matt Giteau and Kurtley Beale on the bench. There’s no specialist half back cover to allow a surprise 6-2 bench, clearly setup for a forwards clash of monumental proportion.
If the Cooper selection will delight the BBQ footy crowd, the petrol on that fire will be the re-admission of Henry Speight starting on the wing in place of last week’s Drew Mitchell.
The other final audition for the big show will be for Will Skelton in the pack. The Horwill – Mumm pair motored last week and with line-out chief Rob Simmons back after this weekend, Big Will needs to show he makes up for more than the side loses by not being able to run the Pooper while he’s on the field. Breathing down Will’s neck will be the return of Kane Douglas to the Wallabies pine.
Cliffy Palu regains a starting spot at eight, no doubt with the brief to be a wrecking ball for 50 minutes.
While some will question elements of the starting line-up for the purposes of wresting back the Bled, you can’t deny that’s a handy looking bench. In last 20 minutes of their three Rugby Championship matches this season, the Wallabies have a for and against of 47-5. Clearly this team make up is designed for more of the same.
Wallabies for Eden Park
- Scott Sio
- Stephen Moore (C)
- Sekope Kepu
- James Horwill
- Will Skelton
- Scott Fardy
- Michael Hooper
- Wycliff Palu
- Nic White
- Quade Cooper
- Adam Ashley-Cooper
- Matt Toomua
- Tevita Kurudrani
- Henry Speight
- Israel Folau