Debutants reign supreme in Wallabies team
IT'S Timu Time. The Wallabies have reshaped their Test backrow yet again by harnessing the explosive running game of former Brisbane Broncos Under-20s forward Caleb Timu.
Wallabies boss Michael Cheika has backed powerful form and experience for his selection of the Test team to confront Six Nations champions Ireland at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Timu, selected at No.8, and hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa both win starts after strong seasons for the Queensland Reds pack.
As significant is the selection of a third debutant in backrower Pete Samu, who will play his initial Test off the bench just a week after playing for New Zealand's Crusaders.
It's hard to comprehend a rise as rapid as that for Samu, an athletic, multi-purpose backrower who New Zealand Rugby only released to Australia last weekend after some solid boardroom argy-bargy.
The Melbourne-born backrower is on a bench loaded with six forwards which is an indication of the artillery that Cheika feels is needed to tame the Irish.
Timu's irresistible cameo for the Reds against the NSW Waratahs last Saturday night proved just that for coach Cheika.
Timu stormed onto a lovely backhanded pass from centre Samu Kerevi, calculated what was ahead of him and bulldozed over halfback Nick Phipps for a strike-back try.
The big backrower's natural running game is a good fit with the breakdown workrate of new backrow partners David Pocock and Michael Hooper and overlooks his still-formative lineout jumping skills.
Paenga-Amosa's rise from Sydney club rugby with Southern Districts to Test starter in 10 months is remarkable.
His full-package skills for the Reds start with his set piece strengths as an influential 116kg scrummager and sure lineout thrower.
His bustling ball carries and neat handling are an extra Cheika always values highly.
After a sabbatical, Pocock is in the Wallabies backrow for his first Test since December 2016 and his value for the skirmishes with the Irish pack is immense.
The Irish are touted to pull a major surprise with key playmaker Johnny Sexton potentially playing from the bench just two weeks after the taxing European Cup triumph with Leinster.
The Wallabies have had only a week to prepare for the Test but are backing an experienced starting XV that boasts 623 Test caps around the two debutants.
Reds centre Kerevi has won the hotly-contested job at No.13 from Test regular Tevita Kuridrani and Curtis Rona.
It is a show of faith in the defensive improvements he has made this year, including a rattling hit on Bernard Foley when the Waratahs five-eighth zeroed in on the tryline last weekend.
Dane Haylett-Petty is back for his 19th Test. His knack to operate beside Israel Folau as a second fullback with a sound clearing kick and high-kick disposal skills were pivotal in his selection ahead of Reece Hodge.
A crowd of more than 42,000 is tipped for the first of three absorbing Tests against the Irish.
Fox Sports will showcase every match of the Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series LIVE with no ad-breaks during play and in HD.
All matches will also be screened LIVE and free in HD on TEN and WIN Network and streaming.
Wallabies v Ireland, Suncorp Stadium, 8.05pm (EST), Saturday
1. Scott Sio (43 Tests)
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa*
3. Sekope Kepu (91 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (4 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (20 Tests)
6. David Pocock (66 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (79 Tests)
8. Caleb Timu*
9. Will Genia (88 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (55 Tests)
11. Dane Haylett-Petty (18 Tests)
12. Kurtley Beale (71 Tests)
13. Samu Kerevi (18 Tests)
14. Marika Koroibete (8 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (62 Tests)
16. Tolu Latu (4 Tests)
17. Allan Alaalatoa (23 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (1 Test)
19. Rob Simmons (82 Tests)
20. Lukhan Tui (4 Tests)
21. Pete Samu*
22. Nick Phipps (61 Tests)
23. Reece Hodge (24 Tests)