Israel Folau has made the long-awaited switch to fullback and Quade Cooper will start for the Wallabies against the Springboks in Brisbane on Saturday.
September 4, 2013 – 11:02AM
Quade Cooper will start at five-eighth for the Wallabies against South Africa. Photo: Getty Images
Folau has been named in a back three with wingers James O’Connor and Nick Cummins, who comes into the side at the expense of Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg.
Folau moves to fullback after five Tests on the wing. Folau played fullback for the Waratahs all season and named the No.15 jersey as his preferred position.
Cooper makes his starting return at five-eighth, squeezing out Matt Toomua, who started both Tests against the All Blacks last month. Toomua and Mogg both move to the bench.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has kept his midfield intact, naming Adam Ashley-Cooper and Christian Leali’ifano in the centres for the third Test in a row.
“We have very specific thoughts about how we want to play this game and feel Quade is best suited to carrying that out,” McKenzie said.
“He’s been part of our matchday squad in both games so far but his role now changes from being a finisher to starting the game. We feel that role will suit how we want to play.
“He is also an experienced and successful Test player, which is handy to have against a hardened Springboks outfit.
“It has been almost 12 months since he last started a Test match and I’m sure there were times where he wondered if he would wear the number 10 jersey again. He’s worked really hard both on and off the field to now get that chance.
“He’s carried himself extremely well all year and during the last fortnight in the role we’ve asked him to complete. Now, he gets a chance to make an impact from the start of the game.
“That also means we’re asking Matt [Toomua] to fulfil a new role this week. He has had a great season so far and his form was reflected in our decision to choose him for the opening two Test matches. He’s still in our Test squad and will have a part to play in our success this week and moving forward.”
Versatile prop Sekope Kepu replaces Ben Alexander at tighthead, with the Brumbies prop moving to the bench in the only change to the starting eight.
Reds back-rower Jake Schatz has taken Liam Gill’s spot on the bench in an effort to beef up the Wallabies pack.
Wallabies: James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, James Horwill (c), Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen, Will Genia (vc), Quade Cooper, James O’Connor, Christian Leali’ifano, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Israel Folau.
Bench: Saia Fainga’a, Scott Sio, Ben Alexander, Kane Douglas, Jake Schatz, Nic White, Matt Toomua, Jesse Mogg.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/quade-cooper-named-to-start-for-wallabies-as-israel-folau-moved-to-fullback-20130904-2t3z8.html#ixzz2du5VqSg3