Wallabies debut for Cummins

 Oct 04,2012
Written by: Editor

The Wallabies have included Mike Harris, Nick Cummins and Ben Tapuai in a new-look backline for their clash with Argentina in Rosario on Saturday.

Western Force winger Cummins' selection comes on his 25th birthday as this season's backline stalwarts Berrick Barnes and Adam Ashley-Cooper were ruled out injured. The pair, who between them can have 118 Test caps, were both injured during the 8-31 loss to South Africa.

Harris will now take over the kicking duties from Barnes and has already proved himself in that role, kicking the match-winning penalty after the final siren when Australia beat Wales 20-19 in Melbourne to win the James Bevan Trophy Series.

After not originally being named on the bench at Loftus, and only taking his place after loose forward Scott Higginbotham was ruled out following a pre-game fitness Test, Harris wound up finishing last weekend's match at full-back, from where he scored his maiden Test try.

There are five changes to the XV from that which started the previous match: Harris and Cummins replace Barnes and Dominic Shipperley respectively, while Ben Tapuai reclaims a place in the Test side standing in for Ashley-Cooper.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says the promotion of Cummins rewards his hard work in the background as a squad member through the season to date, noting that his extra size will be an asset in handling the Pumas' physical approach across the field.

"Nick has waited patiently for his chance, but has earned the right to represent his country," he said.

"We know that the Pumas will be coming straight at us, and will be looking to profit in the collision in the same way that the Springboks did last week. We've addressed that, both internally in our discussions, but also with our selection, where we have gone for the players we feel are best suited to that approach."

On Tapuai, Deans says a Test return was always a case of when, not if, after the Reds midfielder made an impressive start to his international career on last year's tour.

"Ben would have been involved earlier, but for injury disrupting his progress," he continued.

"But he has worked hard in our environment, gained match fitness playing a significant amount of club rugby in Brisbane, and brings a skill set that we feel will be useful in countering the Pumas, who will get off the line quickly in defence."

In the forwards, Sitaleki Timani makes a welcome return to a bulked up pack, taking over from Dave Dennis on the blindside flank. The big Waratahs forward's previous six Test appearances have all been earned in the second row.

"As with the backs, we've looked to increase our physicality to counter the direct force that will undoubtedly be coming the other way," Deans said.

"Although he hasn't played at six in Test matches, Sita does have some background in the position, and he's coming in relatively fresh after a four-week injury break. Dave [Dennis] has had a big workload, both in Super rugby where he was a regular, but also by featuring in every Test so far, which is a significant achievement in what is his first year as a Test player.

"That work load has taken its toll a little bit, but he will still be available to provide cover for either Sita, or the second rowers Kane [Douglas] and Nathan [Sharpe] off the bench."

A further change sees James Slipper promoted to start at loosehead prop, switching roles with Benn Robinson, who moves to the bench.

"Notwithstanding last week's yellow card, James has consistently made an impact this year," continued the coach.

"As is the case with Dennis, we feel we are better served to use the players in the reverse order to last week, with Slipper starting while Robinson provides the fresh legs later in the contest."

Australia: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Sitaleki Timani, 5 Nathan Sharpe (capt), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Dave Dennis, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Dominic Shipperley.

Date: Saturday, October 6
Kick-off: 20:10 (00:10 BST, 23:10 GMT)
Venue: Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Pascal Gauzere (France)
Television match official: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)


Tags: International |  Australia | 

From The Sideline