Ewen McKenzie has made two changes to the Australia team to take on Wales this weekend. Nick Cummins and Adam Ashley-Cooper both return to the starting line-up, at wing and outside centre respectively, after serving a ban for their indiscretions in Dublin, with Christian Leali’ifano shifting into the 12 shirt.
There is a comprehensive reshuffle on the bench too, with Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Kane Douglas, Dave Dennis and Mike Harris all featuring.
The game is set to be controversial fly-half Quade Cooper’s 50th cap. Cooper has had a good northern hemisphere tour, appearing to thrive under the increased responsibility of being named vice-captain. McKenzie was full of praise for him: “To get to 50 games is an outstanding achievement and it’s fitting that he reaches the milestone at the end of a really good individual season,” he said. “He has really enjoyed the responsibility of playing at 10 for Australia.
“He is a very proud guy and proud of his involvement. This team is very important to him and I’m personally quite pleased for him. But, he won’t be too caught up in the milestone externally, his focus will be on how he fits into the team and his responsibility of managing this game.”
Australia have three straight wins under their belt, and are approaching this game as a ‘grand final’, with the aim of finishing their season on a high, according to McKenzie. “I think everyone will be extremely motivated by the circumstances of the game and the opportunity to play Wales in their backyard,” he added.
“For us to finish on a high would be good reward for a lot of the hard work being done. There has been a lot of change and different things happening, so for the guys to push through that has been terrific.”
Australia team to play Wales:
Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs), Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies), Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies), Nick Cummins (Western Force), Quade Cooper (Reds), Will Genia (Reds), James Slipper (Reds), Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies), Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), Rob Simmons (Reds), James Horwill (Reds), Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies), Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), Ben Mowen (ACT Brumbies, captain)
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies), Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs), Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs), Nic White (ACT Brumbies), Mike Harris – Queensland Reds), Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)