David Pocock back as captain for Wallabies against Samoa
SYDNEY (AP) — Flanker David Pocock will captain Australia on his return from injury in Saturday’s test against Samoa, the team’s last match before the Rugby World Cup.
It will be Pocock’s fourth game of rugby this year, likely his last game on home soil and his first test appearance since last November. The back rower, who has a long-term calf injury, has already retired from the ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby and will likely play in Japan’s Top League next year.
The starting 15 includes Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Genia and Sekope Kepu, who have all played 100 or more tests for Australia. Both Genia and Kepu have confirmed their retirement from test rugby at the end of 2019, as has reserve hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau.
The test in western Sydney will be the sixth match between the countries, and the first since Samoa’s 32-23 upset win in Sydney in 2011.
The man who orchestrated that Samoan victory will return after Tusi Pisi was named at five-eighth. He is the only Manu Samoa player from the team which stunned Australia.
Pisi played a part in two of Samoa’s four tries and kicked 12 points eight years ago. The Japan-based 37-year-old missed Samoa’s Pacific Nations Cup campaign but is set to be a pivotal figure at the World Cup.
He is one of 10 players in the starting XV who have experience playing in a New Zealand Super Rugby team, with all but Hurricanes lock Kane Leaupepe and Crusaders prop Michael Ala’alatoa having since moved on to play in Europe. It will be a test debut for Ala’alatoa.
Australia: James Slipper, Jordan Uelese, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, David Pocock (captain), Jack Dempsey, Will Genia, Bernard Foley, Marika Koroibete, Matt To’omua, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tom Banks. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou, Luke Jones, Liam Wright, Rob Valetini, Nick Phipps, James O’Connor.
Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Alapati Leiua, Reynold Lee-Lo, Ed Fidow, Tusi Pisi, Scott Malolua, Afaesetiti Amosa, Jack Lam (captain), T.J. Ioane, Kane Leaupepe, Teofilo Paulo, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ray Niuia, Jordan Lay. Reserves: Motu Matu’u, Paul Alo-Emile, Logovi’i Mulipola, Josh Tyrell, Seilala Lam, Dwayne Polataivao, A.J. Alatimu, Ah See Tuala.