Friday’s rugby news has David Pocock starting at blindside flanker, June 2017 test schedule announced, Jack Dempsey re-signs with the Waratahs and Gethin Jenkins to captain Wales.
Pocock on Blindside
David Pocock has been selected to play at blindside flanker for the first time in his test career against Wales this weekend.
With Dean Mumm suspended, Michael Hooper and Lopeti Timani round out the backrow.
“I still think that our lineouts are good and we’ve been working hard on the options. Lopeti’s worked hard on his jump as well, he’s jumped in Melbourne so he’ll have role, a jumping role,” said Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
“We believe that we have the right strategy, it’s just about getting ball.
“Wales are quite good at the defensive lineout, they’ve got some tall timber so we’ll have to be on our game to get that but what we’ve got we’ll back that.
“We have to make sure our lineout’s working. We can’t play the game without the set piece.
“We’re very well aware of that. We know that will be a big challenge for us to make sure our lineout is strong in that formation.”
Meanwhile, Tevita Kurindrani returns to outside centre whilst Scott Fardy, Tolu Latu and James Slipper come onto the bench.
2017 June Series
The ARU have announced the schedule for the 2017 June Internationals with all matches to be played in the afternoon.
The Wallabies will face Fiji in Melbourne, Scotland in Sydney and Italy in Brisbane over three weekends in June next year, with all matches to kick off at 3pm, the first time this has occurred since the professional era began.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver has listened to fans desire to see more afternoon rugby.
“Fans have told us that they would like more opportunities to watch Test Rugby in the afternoon, with clearly the biggest reason being that an afternoon timeslot makes it much easier to take the family along,” he said.
“The 3pm kick off across all of our June Test matches for 2017 gives fans, particularly our youngest fans, the opportunity to come out see the Wallabies play at a time that’s more convenient for families and to experience the game in the best rectangular stadiums in the country.
“We set new attendance records at Allianz Stadium and AAMI Park during our England Series this year and had another very strong crowd at Suncorp Stadium. All three venues are purpose-built for Rugby and the afternoon kick offs always attract strong interest and create a tremendous atmosphere not just in the Stadiums but right across the cities.”
Current Wallabies development player Jack Dempsey has re-signed with the Waratahs for two seasons.
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson is excited to see what Dempsey can bring next year after a breakout Super Rugby season this year.
“Jack is amongst a number of new and exciting players that have stepped up this year and that I am sure fans will enjoy seeing continue to progress,” Gibson said.
“Next year he has an opportunity to cement a regular starting spot and fulfil his enormous potential.
“Competition for back row spots will be fierce and will push Jack to greater heights.”
Jenkins to Captain
Wales have announced their team to play the Wallabies this weekend with experienced prop Gethin Jenkins to captain the side.
Wales have named a strong backline which includes the experienced Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in the centres, Alex Cuthbert and George North on the wings and Leigh Halfpenny at fullback.
Wales interim coach Rob Howley was pleased with the return of their regular starters to the starting team.
“It’s great to welcome back Leigh Halfpenny, Dan Lydiate, and Alex Cuthbert who missed the New Zealand tour plus George North and Gethin Jenkins who left the tour early with injury,” he said.
“We have a vast amount of experience in the squad, we’ve trained really well over the last two weeks and are really excited for Saturday.
“With losing Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau and Alun Wyn Jones, we have spoken a lot about the leadership group this week and their importance on the field.