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July 22nd, 2018 by admin

Lopeti Timani edges out Leroy Houston for Wallabies No.8 jersey against Argentina

London: The Wallabies will experiment with their sixth back-row combination and seventh second-row pairing this year with Michael Cheika resisting the urge to hand Leroy Houston a starting jersey, instead giving the No.8 spot to Lopeti Timani for Australia’s clash against Argentina at Twickenham on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).
Nanjing Night Net

The only other change to the starting side – keeping in mind Sean McMahon is no longer there because of an ankle injury – is Rory Arnold who replaces Rob Simmons in the second row.

It will be Timani’s first start for the Wallabies after making his one other appearance off the bench in the Pumas game in Perth last month.

Houston looked to be in contention to make his Wallabies debut, but he won’t know his fate until later in the week as Cheika mulls over whether to go with a 6-2 or 5-3 split on the bench. But the Wallabies coach has given a good indication Houston will make the match-day 23.

“With the profile of the other players we have – like the sixes who are more the jumping-type sixes – that ball-carrying, Wycliff Palu-style No.8 is something that we want to have as well,” said Cheika of Timani.

“Leroy is quite an abrasive runner as well so there’s a great opportunity to see how he’ll go with the step up.”

This will be the Wallabies’ sixth different back-row combination from nine Tests this year, during which seven players have been used.

Arnold will make his first start since the England Test in Melbourne alongside Adam Coleman, Australia’s seventh combination this year in what can only be described as a revolving door of pairings.

Cheika said Arnold had ripped in at training this week and felt he was finding some form.

“He’s just been aggressive; his lineout jumping has really improved, his mobility and ball carrying … and every time he’s come onto the field from the bench he’s made an impact as a finisher,” Cheika said. “I just think it’s a real opportunity for him. He started playing rugby late so he’s maturing into the role. It’s more opportunities for guys to say ‘I’m a starter here’.”

The Wallabies won’t name their final bench until Friday, but the key battles for spots will be between props Tom Robertson and Allan Alaalatoa and second-rowers Kane Douglas and Simmons.

“Allan has come back in and scrummed very well,” Cheika said. “Tom’s done well since he’s been in, too. It’s good competition and, again, we’ve got a couple of older blokes who have been in there and are now starting to see some younger guys come in and compete.”

Aside from the chopping and changing in the forwards, Cheika will stick with the same back line for the fourth game in a row in a real sign of confidence things are going well there.

Then there is the usual front-row crew of Scott Sio, captain Stephen Moore and Sekope Kepu who know they will need to be sharper at scrum time if they are to hold off an ever-improving Argentina pack with revenge on their minds after losing 36-20 to the Wallabies in Perth.

Cheika believed the Wallabies would bounce back from their eight-point loss in Pretoria based on the attitude of players at training this week.

“Already I can see from last week’s game and the disappointment of what happened, there is a different attitude in certain guys around some of the technical things that maybe they didn’t realise until it took a game where we should’ve won – and lost – to affect them,” Cheika said. “Only experience can teach guys that.”

Wallabies XV to play Argentina: Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Rob Simmons, Dean Mumm, Michael Hooper, Lopeti Timani, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Reece Hodge, Bernard Foley, Samu Kerevi, Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.