Dempsey gets the call to start for Wallabies
THIS time last year Jack Dempsey was playing his trade in the NRC for the Sydney Rays but he will make his run-on Test debut against South Africa on Saturday.
The elevation of Dempsey, who has played three Test off the bench for the Wallabies, is one of three changes to Michael Cheika’s starting XV to play South Africa at Bloemfontein’s Toyota Stadium.
Rookie duo Izack Rodda and Marika Koroibete are also set for their first Test start as the Wallabies aim for just their second win in 54 years on South Africa’s highveld.
Vice-captain Bernard Foley will earn his 50th Test cap, four years on from his debut against Argentina in Rosario in 2013.
The flyhalf is now the fourth-highest points scorer in Wallabies history (499) after overtaking former skipper Stirling Mortlock in his 15-point outing against Argentina in Canberra a fortnight ago.
Saturday night’s clash could also mark a debut for Lukhan Tui, after the Queensland forward was named on an extended reserves bench.
Tui could become Wallaby No. 914, and the 11th debutant of 2017, if the 21-year-old is selected on the finalised reserves bench by Michael Cheika and runs out in Bloemfontein.
Cheika said: “It’s a good opportunity for Jack (Dempsey) too and a good time now. He has had a couple of games off the bench and contributed well. It’s a good chance for him to start. It’ll be a fast track.
“Realistically, Ned (Hanigan) should never had to play seven games in a row from his debut when he wasn’t even playing Super Rugby at the start of the year.
“We could have given him a chance, taken him out, give him another chance and let him build. But he has done so well. It’s a different challenge for him this week.”
“Izack (Rodda) is young, he is eager and I want to give them these experiences so they can learn.
“I don’t think there is any risk there because he has come off the bench and played well in two big games and I can’t see why starting is any different. It’s a step along the way.”
Australia are currently third on the Rugby Championship standings but will overtake South Africa with a win on Saturday (local time).
Sunday morning’s (AEST) clash will be screened LIVE on FOX SPORTS 501 from 12.30am AEST. Fans can also LIVE stream the match on Foxtel Now (for Foxtel subscribers).
All Rugby Championship Test matches will be screened live and free in High Definition on TEN and WIN Network and on tenplay.com.au with the Test against South Africa on Sunday morning from 12.50am AEST in all markets.
1. Scott Sio (36 Tests)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (75 Tests)
3. Sekope Kepu (84 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (2 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (15 Tests)
6. Jack Dempsey (3 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (72 Tests)
8. Sean McMahon (19 Tests)
9. Will Genia (vc) (82 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (vc) (49 Tests)
11. Reece Hodge (17 Tests)
12. Kurtley Beale (64 Tests)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (51 Tests)
14. Marika Koroibete (1 Test)
15. Israel Folau (59 Tests)
16. Stephen Moore (122 Tests)
17. Tom Robertson (13 Tests)
18. Allan Alaalatoa (16 Tests)
19. Rob Simmons (75 Tests)
20. Ned Hanigan (7 Tests)
21. Lukhan Tui*
22. Nick Phipps (55 Tests)
23. Samu Kerevi (11 Tests)
24. Henry Speight (16 Tests)