Australia name White, Foley for 1st France test
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Nic White and Bernard Foley have been selected in an unproven playmaking combination for Australia in Saturday’s first rugby test against France at Brisbane.
Scrumhalf White will be starting a test for only the third time after playing against Argentina and South Africa during last year’s Rugby Championships, while flyhalf Foley will make his run-on debut after earning his first four caps as a replacement.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said recent form in Super Rugby was critical in selecting the 23-man team. In taking that stance, he has been willing to drop two of his former captains: lock James Horwill, who is consigned to the bench, and scrumhalf Will Genia, who has missed selection entirely.
“We function in a performance environment and so it’s important to reward those who have consistently played at a high level over the course of the season,” McKenzie said. “This year we’re in a particularly strong position whereby so many of our players have been performing well for their provinces.”
Foley will handle the goalkicking duties after a prolific season for New South Wales gave him the selection edge at No. 10 over Waratahs teammate Kurtley Beale as replacement for the injured Quade Cooper.
Lock Sam Carter will make his test debut, aged 24, emulating his father David Carter who was also a Wallaby. Prop James Slipper and backrower Wycliff Palu will make their 50th test appearances.
McKenzie said he was confident White and Foley will make the best of their opportunity to establish a new Wallabies playmaking combination.
“Nic and Bernard are two players who have had a huge influence in the results of their provincial teams over the past two seasons,” he said. “I’ve also been pleased to see their development as playmakers since getting a taste of test Rugby last year and you can sense they have a real confidence in running a game.”
Foley said he was excited about the prospect of taking over the No. 10 jersey.
“I’ve got to repay the faith the coach has shown in me and don’t do anything different,” he said. “I’ve just got to play the game I’ve been playing and that’s probably why I’ve been selected.”
Newly-appointed captain, hooker Stephen Moore, will lead an experienced front row with props Slipper and Sekope Kepu, while Carter will combine with Rob Simmons in the second row. Vice-captain Michael Hooper re-establishes his backrow partnership with blindside flanker Scott Fardy and No. 8 Wycliff Palu.
The ACT Brumbies pair of Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani will combine in midfield with wingers Nick Cummins and Adam Ashley-Cooper, and fullback Israel Folau forming an attacking back three.
Australia: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Bernard Foley, Nic White, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (captain), James Slipper.
Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pek Cowan, Paddy Ryan, James Horwill, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Pat McCabe.