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St.George Queensland Reds scrumhalf Will Genia is set to become Australia’s 78th Test Captain after being appointed as leader of the Wallabies for their Rugby World Cup clash against the United States in Wellington on Friday night.
After making his Test debut three seasons ago in New Zealand, the 23-year-old Reds playmaker has been handed the reins and will stand in for squad skipper and Reds teammate James Horwill, who is being rested.
“It’s a huge honour, a big responsibility and an occasion that I’m really looking forward to,” Genia said.
“We’ve got a big job ahead of us. The United States showed against Ireland that they are a totally committed opponent, and our own performance against Ireland, which was not up to the high standards we set for ourselves, will only have offered the Americans further encouragement.”
Genia becomes the 13th player to lead Australia at the World Cup since the tournament commenced in 1987.
Seven of those men are Queenslanders, with Genia following on from John Eales (five matches as captain), Andrew Slack (five), Michael Lynagh (four), current Reds skipper Horwill (two), Jason Little (one) and current QRU chairman Rod McCall (one).
Although Horwill was available for selection, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has opted to rest his incumbent skipper because of his mounting workload.
“James played every match of the Super Rugby season this year and has missed just one Test [of the seven] played by the Wallabies,” Deans says.
“That schedule has taken its toll. He’s had a recurring niggle with his shoulder over the last month. While an MRI earlier in the week cleared him of any major damage, it’s obvious that a break wouldn’t hurt so we have taken that option.”
In the absence of James O’Connor through illness, Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper again takes the reins as Australia’s primary goal-kicker.
Reds lock Rob Simmons will gain his third test start of the season, while for the first time this year, Reds prop James Slipper will start at loose head prop, after coming off the bench to play tighthead in the previous two tournament matches.
Radike Samo will start off the bench after starting at No 8 against Italy and Ireland.
Reds hooker Saia Faingaa, originally pencilled in for the bench, was ruled out this morning due to a bout of flu while Reds teammate Scott Higginbotham, who was also originally scheduled to play, was withdrawn after jarring his back at training.
The Wallabies team to play the United States in the sixth match of Pool C at the Rugby World Cup, at the Wellington Regional Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off: 8.30pm NZ time, 6.30pm AEST) is:
15. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)
13. Anthony Faingaa (Queensland Reds)
12. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
11. Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs)
10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds, captain)
8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
7. Ben McCalman (Western Force)
6. Rocky Elsom (Brumbies)
5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)
4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
2. Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs)
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
Run on Reserves:
16. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
17. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
18. Dan Vickerman (NSW Waratahs)
19. Radike Samo (Queensland Reds)
20. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
21. Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs)
22. Pat McCabe (Brumbies)
23 JANUARY 2019