Australia v Fiji, Canberra, June 5
Cooper wins race for No.10
June 1, 2010
Quade Cooper and Matt Giteau start at 10 and 12 for the Wallabies © Getty Images
Quade Cooper has won the battle to wear the Australia No.10 jersey for their opening Test of the season, against Fiji in Canberra on Saturday.
The Reds playmaker starts alongside Luke Burgess at halfback following an injury to Will Genia, with Matt Giteau shifting to inside-centre in place of the axed Berrick Barnes. Giteau has played part of this season at No.12 alongside youngster Matt Toomua at the Brumbies.
Waratah Rob Horne will make his debut in the No.13 jersey while there are two new caps up front where Brumbies duo Huia Edmonds and Salesi Ma'afu make their bows.
Brumbies flanker Rocky Elsom retains the captaincy for his 50th Test while Richard Brown has seen off competition from Stephen Hoiles to wear No.8.
"This is the group we've opted to go with first up," coach Robbie Deans said. "A number of the combinations are familiar, but the selection template is always a living document. Other players in the squad will get their opportunity for the Barbarians next week. We'll then assess how things have gone in the first two outings and look ahead from there."
The game will be a welcome challenge prior to a two Test series with England and Deans is mindful of underestimating Fiji. The new caps will be desperate to impress and their coach believes that they should savour the occasion.
"It's a significant occasion - for those players obviously, but for the whole group," Deans says. "We are playing a Test match and you never, ever, take those for granted. The individual talent the Fijian players possess is well known. On their day, they are capable of anything, as has been shown historically, where teams who have under-estimated their capabilities have been burned."
Australia: K Beale; D Ioane, R Horne, M Giteau, A Ashley-Cooper; Q Cooper, L Burgess; B Alexander, H Edmonds, S Ma'afu, D Mumm, N Sharpe, R Elsom (capt), D Pocock, R Brown
Replacements: S Faingaa, P Cowan, M Chisholm, M Hodgson, J Valentine, D Mitchell, J O'Connor