Cheika names new faces in Wallabies starting XV to play Fiji
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named two uncapped players in his starting fifteen to face Fiji at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Ned Hanigan and Karmichael Hunt will both make their debuts on Saturday afternoon, with the bench to be named following a final training run on Friday.
Hanigan will start in the number six jersey, just over a year after making his Super Rugby debut, while Hunt will become a dual-international after playing 11 Tests for Rugby League’s Kangaroos.
Michael Hooper will captain the side with Tatafu Polota-Nau set to wear the number two jersey.
It’s a return to the Test arena for Reds backrower Scott Higginbotham, who last played for the Wallabies in July 2015 against South Africa in Brisbane.
Brumbies duo Sam Carter and Allan Alaalatoa have been rewarded for their fine Super Rugby form in a new-look tight five.
“I have been very pleased with some of the individual performances this season and this has really been the basis of many of these selections,” Cheika said.
“It’s been great to see the energy that Ned and Karmichael have brought this week. We know Test footy is a different beast and I know they have what it takes to step up.”
“Tatafu has been challenging Stephen for the number two jersey for many years and his form has warranted his selection. Stephen is our captain and he’ll be up to the challenge of what both Tatafu and Tolu will bring this Series.
“We’re growing a young leadership team within our side and Michael is a key man in this. His leadership at the Tahs has been exceptional this year and we expect the same on Saturday for a big home Test against a very strong Fiji side,” Cheika said.
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (68 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (9 Tests)
4. Sam Carter (13 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (9 Tests)
6. Ned Hanigan*
7. Michael Hooper (c) (65 Tests)
8. Scott Higginbotham (32 Tests)
9. Will Genia (75 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (42 Tests)
11. Henry Speight (11 Tests)
12. Karmichael Hunt*
13. Tevita Kuridrani (45 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (14 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (52 Tests)