Cooper gets ten as three earn Aussie debuts

Australia coach Robbie Deans has handed debuts to three players for the Test against Fiji on Saturday and the contentious number 10 jersey has gone to Quade Cooper.

Australia coach Robbie Deans has handed debuts to three players for the Test against Fiji on Saturday and the contentious number 10 jersey has gone to Quade Cooper.

Hooker Huia Edmonds, prop Salesi Ma’afu and outside centre Rob Horne will all pick up their first Test caps at the Canberra Stadium.

Deans said: “It’s a significant occasion – for those players obviously, but for the whole group.

“We are playing a Test match and you never, ever, take those for granted.”

Deans has made seven changes to the starting XV that defeated Wales 33-12 at Millennium Stadium last November.

Scrum-half Luke Burgess has been handed a rare start in the absence of the injured Will Genia (knee), while Adam Ashley-Cooper moves onto the wing to allow Kurtley Beale to make his starting debut as full-back.

Centre Digby Ioane moves to wing to accommodate Horne in the centres, while Matt Giteau moves from flyhalf to inside centre in a positional swap with Cooper.

Berrick Barnes, who was named as vice-captain prior to last season’s end-of-season tour only to return home with an ankle injury, has been overlooked for the 22-man squad.

Injuries to key forwards Benn Robinson (arm), James Horwill (knee), Wycliff Palu (knee) and Stephen Moore (jaw) have forced a major reshuffle up front.

Edmonds and Ma’afu will form an all Brumbies front row with Ben Alexander who shifts from tighthead to loosehead, while Nathan Sharpe returns at starting lock following a shoulder injury.

Richard Brown replaces Palu at number eight after beating recalled veteran Stephen Hoiles to the spot.

Australia: Beale; Ioane, Horne; Giteau, Ashley-Cooper, Cooper, Burgess; Brown, Pocock, Elsom (capt), Sharpe, Mumm, Ma’afu, Edmonds, Alexander.

Replacements: Faingaa, Cowan, Chisholm, Hodgson, Valentine, Mitchell, O’Connor.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox