Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named Reece Hodge to start at outside centre for Saturday night’s Bledisloe Cup opener against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
It will be the 23-year old’s first Test start in the number 13 jersey with the versatile back having featured in nearly every other position in the Wallabies backline.
Veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau will get the chance to add to his 82 Test caps after returning home from club duty in England to start in the hooker position while captain Michael Hooper (hamstring) and Dane Haylett-Petty (knee) have overcome injury concerns.
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In-form prop Tom Robertson will earn just his third starting appearance in the absence of Scott Sio, after the latter was ruled out due to a shoulder complaint.
Boom youngster Jack Maddocks may earn his Test debut after being named on Michael Cheika’s bench alongside Matt Toomua, who has recently signed with the Melbourne Rebels for the 2019 Super Rugby season.
The Wallabies won their last meeting with New Zealand 23-18 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane last October to break a seven match losing streak dating back to August 2015.
The three-Test Bledisloe Cup Series will move to Auckland next weekend before the final clash in Yokohama, Japan in October.
Wallabies side to play New Zealand:
1-Tom Robertson, 2-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3-Sekope Kepu, 4-Izack Rodda, 5-Adam Coleman, 6-Lukhan Tui, 7-Michael Hooper (c), 8-David Pocock, 9-Will Genia, 10- Bernard Foley, 11-Marika Koroibete, 12-Kurtley Beale, 13-Reece Hodge, 14-Dane Haylett-Petty, 15-Israel Folau
16-Tolu Latu,17-Allan Alaalatoa,18-Taniela Tupou,19-Rob Simmons, 20-Pete Samu, 21-Nick Phipps, 22-Matt Toomua, 23-Jack Maddocks.