David Pocock and Michael Hooper will start together for the first time in their Test careers after being named in a revamped Wallabies side to face the All Blacks in Saturday night’s Rugby Championship decider and Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney.
Pocock will play at No.8 while Hooper is at openside flanker, with the naming of the pair catching a few by surprise after Wycliff Palu was expected to make his return after missing the opening two games of the series, but he’s missed a spot in the squad all together.
“Australian Rugby is very fortunate to have some quality flankers competing for the number seven jumper,” said coach Michael Cheika.
“Both players have been in outstanding form for club and country this season and have shown their class in sharing the spot in the first two matches.”
Loosehead prop Scott Sio will make his run-on debut, while Matt Giteau returns from injury at inside centre after missing the Wallabies’ last-start win over Argentina.
“We have been impressed with Scott since joining the Wallabies group and he has worked extremely hard to put himself in this position,” said Cheika.
NSW veteran Dean Mumm has bumped Will Skelton out of a starting place at lock, with the Waratahs giant moved to the bench.
Toulon star Drew Mitchell will get his first chance for the Wallabies since returning from France and has been named on the wing.
Wallabies squad: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, James Horwill, Dean Mumm, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio. Bench Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Will Skelton, Ben McCalman, Nic White, Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale.