South Africa v Australia
Wallabies hooker merry-go-round continues
ESPN Staff
September 25, 2014
Australia hooker Saia Faingaa, Australia v South Africa, Tri-Nations, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, July 24, 2010
Back in the side - Saia Fainga'a © Getty Images

Australia have made three changes to the side that beat Argentina for the Rugby Championship Test against South Africa at Newlands.

Coach Ewen McKenzie has picked sixth-string hooker Saia Fainga'a to start for the first time in four years, with vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper returning from injury and Joe Tomane replacing Rob Horne.

Fainga'a is the fifth different hooker used by Australia in their last eight Tests and he faces the daunting prospect of facing up to a Springbok pack which rattled the All Blacks in Wellington and who have Bismarck du Plessis, arguably the best hooker in the world, on the bench.

"We've been really impressed with the effort [Fainga'a] has put in off the field recently, and he'll be determined to make the most of this opportunity," McKenzie said. "The set-piece is always an important area of focus for us, even more so when you play South Africa, and we know the outcome of the scrum and line-out will be crucial to the final result."

Another surprised came as McKenzie recalled veteran prop Benn Robinson in place of Pek Cowan on the bench, explaining: "Benn is someone who we have always said wasn't out of the selection picture, and we've been pleased with the improvements he has made."

McKenzie dropped Matt Hodgson from his squad, opting to switch back to a more traditional four/three (forwards/backs) split on the bench, meaning Horne joined Nic White and Kurtley Beale as back-line cover.


Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper (capt), Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, Sekope Kepu, Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper

Replacements: James Hanson, Benn Robinson, Ben Alexander, James Horwill, Scott Higginbotham, Nic White, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne

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