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Thread: Wallabies Named to Play Fiji

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    (formerly known as Coach) Your Humble Servant Darren's Avatar
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    Wallabies Named to Play Fiji

    Rocky Elsom will play his 50th Test and will lead Australia on home soil for the first time in a Test match, after being named to head the Qantas Wallabies side for Saturday night’s Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series opener against Fiji in Canberra.

    The 27-year-old, who takes charge of the side for the sixth time after becoming Australia’s 76th Test captain last year, leads a combination which could see five players make their international debuts for the Qantas Wallabies.

    NSW Waratahs centre Rob Horne, Brumbies tighthead prop Salesi Ma’afu and Brumbies hooker Huia Edmonds have all been selected to take their maiden Test bows among the run on side.

    Additionally, Western Force flanker Matt Hodgson and Queensland Reds hooker Saia Faingaa will earn their much coveted Wallabies numbers if they take part coming off the run on reserves bench.

    Ma’afu and Hodgson both appeared for Australia last year, but have yet to feature in the Test arena.

    Kurtley Beale, who will play his maiden Test on Australian soil after being named as fullback, was the most recent graduate to Wallaby Test ranks last November against Wales when he became the 836th player to represent Australia in a Test match.

    Other features of the combination unveiled today see Queensland Reds centre Digby Ioane switch to the wing, after starring from the midfield on last year’s Spring Tour.

    His move accommodates the inclusion of Horne while, inside of the pair, the partnership in the halves between Quade Cooper and Matt Giteau has been retained, albeit with a significant modification.

    After Cooper appeared outside of Giteau in all four Tests of last year’s Grand Slam attempt in the United Kingdom and Ireland; this year’s Investec Bank Super 14 Player of the Year has today been named at flyhalf, with Giteau featuring outside him at inside centre.

    Although the jersey numbers were different, this is the alignment the pair operated from for most of last year’s tour-ending 33-12 defeat of Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

    NSW Waratahs halfback Luke Burgess has won position behind the scrum, in the absence of the injured Will Genia, with the Brumbies Josh Valentine backing him up from the bench.

    In front of them, Richard Brown gets the first crack at the No 8 jersey vacated by the injured Wycliff Palu. Western Force skipper Nathan Sharpe plays his first Test since last year’s second Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney, while Ben Alexander is selected as a loosehead prop, after performing from the tighthead side during last year’s Test programme.

    With Pekahou Cowan named on the bench, Alexander may see action from both sides of the scrum during the game.

    Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says today’s selection was a good starting point for the Test season, although he noted other players within the Qantas Wallabies would get their opportunity playing for the Australian Barbarians against England in Perth next Tuesday.

    The Australian Barbarians team, which will be coached by Deans, will be named on Sunday.

    “This is the group we’ve opted to go with first up. A number of the combinations are familiar, but the selection template is always a living document,” he says.

    “Other players in the squad will get their opportunity for the Barbarians next week. We’ll then assess how things have gone in the first two outings and look ahead from there.”

    Deans noted the significance of this weekend’s occasion both for his captain, in terms of Elsom’s 50th Test, but also for the five potential Test debutants.

    “It’s a significant occasion – for those players obviously, but for the whole group,” Deans says.

    “We are playing a Test match and you never, ever, take those for granted.”

    While Fiji brings a large element of the unknown to Canberra Stadium, Deans says his men will be ready for anything.

    “The individual talent the Fijian players possess is well known,” he says.

    “On their day, they are capable of anything, as has been shown historically, where teams who have under-estimated their capabilities have been burnt!”

    The 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists could field a significant first time Test player of their own in prop Campese Ma’afu, the younger brother of Qantas Wallabies prop Salesi Ma’afu.

    If the brothers wind up opposing each other, they will become just the fourth set of brothers to have featured on opposite sides in a Test match, but the first to have made their Test debuts going up against each other.

    The earlier examples were provided by Tana and Mike Umaga (New Zealand v Samoa, 1999), Pita and Sam Alatini (New Zealand v Tonga, 2000) and Stephen and Graeme Bachop (Samoa v Japan, RWC, 1999).


    The Qantas Wallabies team to play Fiji in the Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series at Canberra Stadium on Saturday 6 June (7.35pm kick off), is:

    1. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
    2. Huia Edmonds (Brumbies)
    3. Salesi Ma’afu (Brumbies)
    4. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
    5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)
    6. Rocky Elsom (Brumbies, captain)
    7. David Pocock (Western Force)
    8. Richard Brown (Western Force)

    9. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
    10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
    11. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)
    12. Matt Giteau (Brumbies)
    13. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
    14. Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds)
    15. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs)

    Run on reserves:

    16. Saia Faingaa (Queensland Reds)
    17. Pekahou Cowan (Western Force)
    18. Mark Chisholm (Brumbies)
    19. Matt Hodgson (Western Force)
    20. Josh Valentine (Brumbies)
    21. Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs)
    22. James O’Connor (Western Force)


    Australia v Fiji – Historical Notes

    • This is the 19th official Test between Australia and Fiji. Australia has won 15, Fiji two while the 1961 match was drawn 3-3 in Melbourne.
    • Fiji won two of its first four Tests against Australia, with both wins being claimed in Sydney, and both by two point margins, in 1952 (17-15) and 1954 (18-16).
    • Australia has won the last 11 Tests between the countries since1972.
    • The two countries last met at Montpellier during the 2007 Rugby World Cup where Australia prevailed 55-12. The most recent meeting on Australian soil came earlier that same year with the Qantas Wallabies beating Fiji 49-0 in Perth.
    • Rocky Elsom will become the 31st player to reach 50 Tests for Australia.
    • Saturday night will represent the fourth Test appearance by the Qantas Wallabies at Canberra Stadium, following on from a 74-0 win over Tonga in a Rugby World Cup qualifying match in 1998, a 32-25 victory over Argentina in 2000, and last year’s 31-8 win over Italy.
    • Last year’s Test against Italy at Canberra saw James O’Connor become the youngest ever scorer of a hat-trick of tries in Test matches for any nation. O’Connor has been listed amongst the run on reserves for this weekend.
    • Matt Giteau starts the match 11 points behind the 48 compiled by the immediate past president of the Australian Rugby Union Paul McLean, which represents the most by an Australian in Tests against Fiji.
    • Similarly winger Adam Ashley-Cooper, who scored in both of the 2007 Tests against Fiji, needs two tries to equal the record for the most by an Australian player against Fiji, which stands at four. Drew Mitchell, who starts the weekend from among the run on reserves, has scored three previous Test tries against Fiji.
    • Three members of Saturday night’s Australian starting XV: winger Digby Ioane, flanker David Pocock and lock Dean Mumm, were all members of the 2007 Australia A side which required a late try by Lachie Turner to force a 14-14 draw with Fiji in Suva.
    • In making his Test debut, hooker Brumbies hooker Huia Edmonds follows in the footsteps of his brother, Manny Edmonds, who played two Tests for Australia, in 1998 and 2001. Manny Edmonds also made his Test debut at Canberra, during Australia’s Rugby World Cup qualifying match against Tonga.

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    Veteran zimeric's Avatar
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    ill tell you one thing that back line now has genuine strike power.
    Finally Digby in his appropriate position as well as Giteau and Cooper.. im sooooo looking forward to seeing them cut through defenses like a hot knife in a salami shop.. or is that like chickens in a hot tin roof.. no .. ah well you get the idea

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    They'll need a truck load of ice though, should be cold enough on the night but will be some sore bodies by morning!

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    Champion Contributor WF1964's Avatar
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    It will come as no surprise that Channel 7 is broadcasting this game in Perth at 12.05am!
    Channel 7 - thanks for nothing!

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    Question MES pOMS

    can anyone tell me the team to play the poms on tuesday ?

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    Sunday I understand BD.

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    Champion welshrugbyfan's Avatar
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    Fiji?

    Why?

    At least combine them for the Pacific Island team again. Rathbone still shudders when he hears that team name.

    I'm suprised we didn't get this test as our ONE game this year.

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    Veteran TOCC's Avatar
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    because its not up to Australia to decide, many of the island countries werent real happy with the way the combined side worked out, they feel its detracting from there own identities..

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    (formerly known as Coach) Your Humble Servant Darren's Avatar
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    Welsh are usually pretty poor against Australia also - they should at least combine with the Scots to play us....

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    Senior Player Hoolly Doolly's Avatar
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    Huia Edmonds.......crikey!!!
    Personally i wouldve had Faingaa starting and Whittaker on the bench....Edmonds is a waste of a oppurtunity to biuld more depth at that position.
    Edmonds brain farts coming off the bench out numbered his highlights. Was way too inconsisent imo.

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    Veteran robyn <3's Avatar
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    I actually failed to catch one game from Kurtley Beale. He musta been something to keep James out of that XV.

    Nice to see Pek in the mix - I hope he gets a run!

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    Senior Player Hoolly Doolly's Avatar
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    beale had a terrific 2nd half of the season but his defence is still a big question mark imo.

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  15. #15
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    As mentioned in another article, he has been selected prior to his trial date to ensure he keeps some Rugby ticking over.
    I wouldn't get too wound up about selections against Fiji...

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