Comeback kid Dean Mumm will skipper the Wallabies for the first time in their second Rugby World Cup pool match on Sunday against Uruguay.
Mumm will lead out an entirely new starting line-up from the team which toppled Fiji 28-13 in a hard-fought contest on Wednesday night, with coach Michael Cheika opting to make mass changes due to the four-day turnaround between games.
One player who had been expected to feature in the Villa Park showdown in Birmingham was Queensland prop James Slipper, who captained the Wallabies in their one-off clash with the USA early this month during their north American training camp and was expected to do so against Uruguay – with regular skipper Stephen Moore benched.
Slipper will miss the Uruguay clash and remains in doubt for England at Twickenham the following Saturday (Sunday AEST), as he goes through the standard concussion protocols after getting knocked out against Fiji.
However his absence opens the door for the 31-year-old Mumm to lead his country in a World Cup.
It caps a remarkable rise for the durable lock who, at the start of the year, was still playing with English side Exeter.
In the time since, he made a snap decision to revive his World Cup dream by joining the NSW Waratahs on a one-year deal.
That quickly earned him a recall to the Wallabies’ squad and, through impressive performances, his dream became reality when he landed in the 31-man World Cup squad.
“It’s an incredible honour to lead this group of players,” said Mumm.
He is one of several Wallabies who will be out to impress Cheika and press his claims for a starting berth ahead of the crucial pool games with England and Wales and, hopefully, the knockout stages.
The unconvincing win over Fiji left lingering question marks over the places of several positions – notably, but not limited to, the halves and outside backs.
Cheika again confirmed places remained up for grabs, and performances against Uruguay would be recognised at the selection table.
“Definitely, for sure … it is an opportunity for the lads to lift the standard of play,” he said.
Cheika’s overhaul will partner Nick Phipps with Quade Cooper in the halves, while Joe Tomane and Drew Mitchell man the wings, Kurtley Beale slots in at fullback and Matt Toomua and Henry Speight line up in the centres.
Alongside Mumm in the second-row is the imposing figure of Will Skelton, with the front row composed of Tatafu Polota Nau and Toby Smith, who made his debut against the USA and comes in at the expense of Slipper, as well as Scott Sio – the only starter backing up from Fiji.
The back-row will comprise Ben McCalman, rising star Sean McMahon and veteran Wycliff Palu, who has recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place at No.8.
The bench will be loaded up with players who Cheika feels need some more miles in the legs – with starting front row and locks from the Fiji game all expected to get more game time.
Wallabies team to play Uruguay:
Kurtley Beale, Joe Tomane, Henry Speight, Matt Toomua, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Sean McMahon, Ben McCalman, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm (capt), Toby Smith, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio. Res: Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Greg Holmes, Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas, Will Genia, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani.