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Nine St.George Queensland Reds have been named in the Wallabies side to take on Argentina this weekend at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast.
Quade Cooper, Digby Ioane, Dom Shipperley, and Radike Samo all feature in the starting line up while James Slipper, Liam Gill, Scott Higginbotham, and Anthony Faingaa were named on the bench. Saia Faingaa is a possible inclusion in the 16 jersey depending on the fitness of injured hooker Stephen Moore.
A new captain, a new halfback, and a new second row combination highlight the Wallabies side named today for Saturday night’s Test against Argentina in The Rugby Championship.
Local product Nathan Sharpe fittingly takes the captaincy reins for what will be the first Test match to have been played on the Gold Coast, as Skilled Park becomes just the eighth home venue for the Wallabies, and the second to have been introduced this year following the June Test against Scotland at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle.
The 34-year-old, who guided the Western Force through its first six years as skipper, and has twice previously led the Wallabies in Tests in 2004 (versus New Zealand) and 2005 (versus Samoa), on Saturday night plays his 109th Test, but the first in his home town.
“It’s rare when you have played at this level for as long as I have to come across something totally new, but to play a Test in my home town is something I would never have imagined happening when I started,” Sharpe says.
“To have the privilege of leading Australia in the first ever Test to be played on the Gold Coast is an experience I will always treasure. But the memory is down the track. For now, it’s important we keep our focus as a team, build on what we achieved last weekend in Perth, and add to that momentum. No one else in the squad has played Argentina before but I have and they will be tough, incredibly passionate and uncompromising. You only have to look at what they have achieved to date in their tournament matches to see what a threat they will be.”
With Will Genia last weekend having become the third Wallaby captain for the year to have been sidelined by injury, Melbourne Rebels halfback Nick Phipps steps up for what will be his fifth Test appearance, but just his second starting role.
The absence of Genia, and the pre-scheduled shoulder operation which removed Brumbies halfback Nic White from the squad late last month, sees the nuggetty Western Force halfback Brett Sheehan return after a three-year absence from the Wallabies.
At hooker, Stephen Moore is again named, but he has been bracketed on the bench with Saia Fainga’a. Tatafu Polota Nau retains his starting position, having performed strongly after replacing Moore in Perth last weekend when the Brumbies hooker strained his hamstring at training.
A decision on whether Moore is fit to play will be made later. If he features, Moore will play his 73rd Test, surpassing Jeremy Paul for the most appearances by an Australian Test hooker.
The Wallabies have again opted for additional mobility by including two loose forwards among their run on forward substitutes with last weekend’s try-scorer Scott Higginbotham, and his state loose forward colleague Liam Gill, who both made a big impression after they entered the fray at Paterson’s Stadium.
Los Pumas arrived on the Gold Coast last Sunday for what will be Argentina’s first appearance in Australia since the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
That tournament opened with an 8-23 loss to Australia in what was the most recent Test match between the two countries. Sharpe is the only Wallaby survivor from that occasion.
While winless to date in The Rugby Championship, Los Pumas have made both of their opponents uncomfortable, with the competition newcomers making most of the running in a 16-16 draw with South Africa at Mendoza last month, before giving the All Blacks a scare for much of last weekend’s Test in Wellington which was eventually lost 5-21.
This weekend’s match will be the 355th Test played by Argentina, with Los Pumas having won 196, lost 145 and drawn 10.
The Wallabies team to play Argentina on Saturday in The Rugby Championship at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast (kick-off: 8pm AEST) is:
15. Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs)
14. Dominic Shipperley (Queensland Reds)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)
12. Pat McCabe (Brumbies)
11. Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds)
10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
9. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels)
8. Radike Samo (Queensland Reds)
7. Michael Hooper (Brumbies)
6. Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs)
5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force, captain)
4. Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs)
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
2. Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs)
1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
Run on Reserves:
16. Stephen Moore (Brumbies) or Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
18. Scott Higginbotham (Queensland Reds)
19. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds)
20. Brett Sheehan (Western Force)
21. Anthony Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
22. Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels)
22 MAY 2013
20 MAY 2013