Below is the Australia team to play Italy in Padova this weekend. Why we’re announcing teams later than any other team in the world, I’m not sure, because this squad of 22 has been leaked accurately over the past 3 days.
On the positive side, it’ll be fascinating to see Barnes at 10 – where there’s a growing consensus he should probably swap with Giteau. Also good to see Turner and Ioane get run outs. It will be interesting to see if watching rugby videos has made Tahu a better defender.
However, in the pack, where we know the Eyeteyes are strong, has a few worries about it. First off – no specialist second rowers. While losing Sharpe on current form is no blow, MMM hasn’t made a good fist of lock yet.
Even more worrying is the front row. Ben Alexander (pictured) hasn’t started a professional game of rugby in his life, yet runs out. He’s backed up by Sekope Kepu on the bench who has no caps. But that’s all right, the whole thing’s anchored by Matt Dunning…….
On the bench, O’Connor and Cooper are potential debutants, and could find themselves right in the thick of it should this game go the way I fear.
Deans is certainly rolling the dice. Maybe this team is designed to confuse Mallet by giving him too many targets to aim at?
Wallabies vs Italy
15. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)
14. Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs)
13. Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies) captain
12. Timana Tahu (NSW Waratahs)
11. Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds)
10. Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds)
9. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
8. Richard Brown (Western Force)
7. Phil Waugh (NSW Waratahs)
6. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
5. Hugh McMeniman (Queensland Reds)
4. Mark Chisholm (Brumbies)
3. Matt Dunning (NSW Waratahs)
2. Stephen Moore (Queensland Reds)
1. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
Run on reserves:
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)
17. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
18. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
19. David Pocock (Western Force)
20. Matt Giteau (Western Force)
21. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
22. James O’Connor (Western Force)