Australia will line up with twin openside flankers David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the back row for the 3 October Rugby World Cup match against England, after coach Michael Cheika reverted to his first choice starting side.
Given the tight turnaround between their first two Pool A matches, Cheika put out almost completely different line-ups for the opening 28-13 victory over Fiji in Cardiff and last weekends 65-3 humbling of Uruguay. Cheika returned to the stronger line-up he started against the Pacific Islanders for the clash at Twickenham against the hosts, with Pocock playing in the number eight shirt for the third time this year.
The eight-man bench will not be named until after Thursdays training session but it can be expected to be weighted towards the forwards with perhaps even a place for a third openside in Sean McMahon, who was outstanding against Uruguay. Cheika must change at least one of his replacements from the Fiji match after lock Will Skelton was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a pectoral injury earlier this week.
There were a fair few tough selection decisions across the board around what would be the best mix to start the match but we felt the team who played in the first game did a good job and also understood the improvements it needs to make and has been working on that in the lead up to this game and we decided to stick with it, said Cheika.
My thoughts werent framed by their (England) combination or this game in mind in particular, it was just about what was best for us. Weve been concentrating on ourselves and and trying to find the best out of ourselves.
The coach praised Pocock and Hooper in the back row but particularly flanker Scott Fardy, saying: Its not just the two of them - most people forget about his name but Fardys actually playing in there as well and hes doing a very good job; I really do believe in the complementary nature of the players.
Will Genia and Bernard Foley will resume their unfamiliar halfback partnership at Twickenham with Matt Giteau winning his 98th test cap at inside centre and likely to take the ball at first receiver on occasions as well. Rob Horne retains his place on the wing after a solid defensive performance against the dangerous Fijian outside backs, while Adam Ashley-Cooper will win his 110th cap on the other flank.
Team: 1-Scott Sio, 2-Stephen Moore (captain), 3-Sekope Kepu, 4-Kane Douglas, 5-Rob Simmons, 6-Scott Fardy, 7-Michael Hooper, 8-David Pocock, 9-Will Genia, 10-Bernard Foley, 11-Rob Horne, 12-Matt Giteau, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 15-Israel Folau.