Matt Giteau has earned a Wallabies recall after a four-year absence while Quade Cooper and Will Genia will start in the halves in Saturday night’s Rugby Championship opener against South Africa.
The trio are among the big winners in coach Michael Cheika’s keenly-anticipated first squad of the season to face the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium as they begin the path to the World Cup in England and Wales in September.
“He’s a talisman, I believe, for them”.
Possible Wallabies starting team: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Giteau, Rob Horne, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Will Skelton, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, James Slipper.
He said in the past he put too much importance on rugby, felt the pressure through the media and found himself not being able to play to the best of his ability.
“I’m not going to lie, injuries are very tough mentally to overcome”, he said. “I think he’s an unbelievable player – whether that be at 10 or 12”, he said after naming his side on Wednesday.
Moore, returning as captain for the first time since a season-ending injury in Australia’s first test past year, said the Wallabies need to match South Africa physically in the forward exchanges in order to give the backs space and time to cut loose.
“I just thought these two lads were the right guys to do the job in this Test match”, Cheika told reporters.
“These players know they represent a squad of over 50 players who will have some involvement within the Wallabies program at different stages of the year”.
Former Wallabies captain James Horwill joins by David Pocock among the forwards on the bench with half-backs Nick Pipps and Matt Toomua, who started against England, covering the backs with Toulon winger Drew Mitchell, another beneficiary of the ARU’s new overseas policy.
“With new combinations comes a new level of energy to our team environment and Will, Quade and Matt certainly bring that”, said Cheika. “What we want to see are the deeds we’re doing every day; how am I preparing for the next game, how am I getting better”.
“I’ve said last week that we will make changes, but it’s also important to keep some form of momentum”.
Giteau played his last test in 2011 whilst Mitchell played his last test in 2012. Gone are the days when the Springboks offered a more boring, 10 man approach to the game, with Handre Pollard pulling the strings and the brilliant Willie le Roux at the back, pace and experience out wide in Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, and the blockbusting Damian de Allende in the midfield, the Springboks have plenty of points in them.
“I’m not going to lie”.
He has enjoyed a meteoric rise since making his Super Rugby debut in 2013 and was an integral part of the Waratahs team which won their maiden Super Rugby title in 2014.