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By Waratahs Rugby Media Unit
Ten NSW Waratahs have been selected in the Wallabies 23-man squad for the first Test against France this Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has named prop Sekope Kepu, breakaway Michael Hooper, No. 8 Wycliff Palu, flyhalf Bernard Foley, winger Adam Ashley-Cooper and fullback Israel Folau in the starting 15.
On the bench for Australia’s opening international are Tatafu Polota Nau , Paddy Ryan, Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps.
Foley won the battle against team mate Beale to secure the number 10 jumper. The Waratahs flyhalf, who earned four caps during his maiden Test season in 2013, has been rewarded for a dominant Super Rugby campaign and will take on the goal-kicking responsibilities in his first starting opportunity for the Qantas Wallabies.
He’ll form a new playmaking partnership with Nick White who earned three caps in 2013 Rugby Championship. McKenzie backed his new playmaking duo to make the most of their opportunity. “Nic and Bernard are two players who have had a huge influence in the results of their provincial teams over the past two seasons,” he said.
“I’ve also been pleased to see their development as playmakers since getting a taste of Test Rugby last year and you can sense they have a real confidence in running a game.
“We have a very specific style of game we want to play – the Wallaby way – and their two skill-sets complement each other in ensuring we can deliver our game plan on the night.
“They’re also established goal-kickers and you can never underestimate the importance of this skill at an international level.”
It will also be a memorable occasion for the rugged Waratahs No.8 Palu, who is set to play his milestone 50th Test match for Australia. When he runs on he will become just the second No.8 in Australian Rugby history to reach the mark, behind only Toutai Kefu (57 games).
Prop James Slipper will also notch his 50th test cap in the first test. Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu will join new Qantas Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and James Slipper in the front row.
Following in the footsteps of his father and former Wallaby David Carter, 24-year-old ACT Brumbies lock Sam Carter will become Wallaby No.879 when he makes his Test debut in the starting line-up alongside lineout-caller Rob Simmons in the two lock positions.
In the backrow, securing his 29th test cap, vice-captain and openside flanker is the Tahs Michael Hooper, reigniting his backrow partnership with blindside flanker Scott Fardy, with NSW powerhouse Wycliff Palu at No.8.
The centre pairing is Matt Toomua and his Brumbies teammate Tevita Kuridrani.
Super Rugby’s inform centre Adam Ashley-Cooper has found himself on the wing despite career best displays at centre in his last couple of game for NSW. The Force’s Nick Cummins is on the other wing.
Israel Folau, who broke the Waratahs record for most tries in a Super Rugby season when he crossed for the 11th time in 2014 against the Chiefs last weekend, will grab his 16th international against the French in the number 15 jumper.
On the interchange, Polota Nau is the back-up hooker and Paddy Ryan the back-up prop. Phipps will cover for White at scrumhalf and Beale will have a number of roles from the playmaker to the midfield and fullback. Outside back Rob Horne and 22-year-old Will Skelton are the only Waratahs in the train on squad to miss selection.
Tickets are on sale for the Castrol EDGE France Tour, which begins at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday 7 June; travels through Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday 14 June; and concludes with a family-friendly Saturday afternoon encounter at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday 21 June.
The Qantas Wallabies 2014 Castrol EDGE France Tour schedule is:
Saturday 7 June, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (8pm)
Saturday 14 June, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne (8pm)
Saturday 21 June, Allianz Stadium, Sydney (3pm)
The Qantas Wallabies side to play France in the opening Castrol EDGE France Tour Test for the Trophée des Bicentenaires at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 7 June is:
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds - 49 caps)
2. Stephen Moore (c - ACT Brumbies - 91 caps)
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs - 38 caps)
4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds - 37 caps)
5. Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies - uncapped)*
6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies - 10 caps)
7. Michael Hooper (vc - NSW Waratahs - 28 caps)
8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs - 49 caps)
9. Nic White (ACT Brumbies - 10 caps)
10. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs - 4 caps)
11. Nick Cummins (Western Force - 12 cap)
12. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies - 10 caps)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies - 8 caps)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (vc - NSW Waratahs - 91 caps)
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs - 15 caps)
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs – 46 caps)
17. Pek Cowan (Western Force - 5 caps)
18. Paddy Ryan (NSW Waratahs - 2 caps)
19. James Horwill (Queensland Reds - 48 caps)
20. Ben McCalman (Western Force - 29 caps)
21. Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs – 14 caps)
22. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs - 39 caps)
23. Pat McCabe (ACT Brumbies - 20 caps)
* On Debut