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Speight to make Wallabies test debut vs Ireland

November 20, 2014

SYDNEY (AP) — Fiji-born winger Henry Speight will make his test debut for Australia against Ireland on Saturday, and troubled utility back Kurtley Beale is a contender to start off the bench.

Speight’s inclusion is one of four changes to the starting lineup following the three-point loss to France last weekend.

The 26-year-old Speight replaces Joe Tomane on the wing, while Matt Toomua returns at the expense of Christian Leali’ifano at center, Luke Jones earns a start on the blindside flank to replace Sean McMahon and Sam Carter returns at lock in place of veteran former Wallabies skipper James Horwill.

Toomua hasn’t played since sustaining concussions late in the Rugby Championship.

Beale, who missed the last Rugby Championship loss to Argentina due to suspension, was drafted onto an expanded 11-man reserves bench which will be trimmed by three ahead of the match.

Beale was last month fined $40,000 for sending an offensive photograph to team business manager Di Patston in June. He escaped having his Australian Rugby Union contract terminated after being found not guilty of a second, more serious allegation.

The text message scandal blew up following a heated argument between Beale and Patston during a flight from South Africa to Argentina between test losses.

Beale missed the start of the tour but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika called him into the squad, saying there was no point having him eligible to play for Australia but not available for selection.

Cheika said the changes this week were designed to give players an opportunity to press for selection in the squad for the 2015 World Cup.

Speight “is very passionate about representing Australia and we’re all looking forward to seeing him bring his best attributes to our game,” Cheika said.

Australia started its tour with a 40-36 victory over the Barbarians at Twickenham in Cheika’s debut as Wallabies coach, then beat Wales 33-28 at Cardiff before losing 29-26 to France last Saturday.

The tour will end with a test against 2015 World Cup host England at Twickenham.

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Australia: Australia: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevenia Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Henry Speight, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper (captain), Luke Jones, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, Sekope Kepu, Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper. Reserves (three to be omitted): James Hanson, Benn Robinson, Ben Alexander, Tetera Faulkner, Will Skelton, James Horwill, Jake Schatz, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale.

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