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Wallabies

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AustraliaWhile some might be quick to suggest Australia needs to put 2014 aside and focus on the upcoming season, no Test nation has as many potential improvements and as a consequence the prospective growth potential for the Wallabies excites.

Michael Cheika took over midyear but any who thought his success with the Waratahs would quickly translate to the national setup were sadly mistaken as the significant gap between Super Rugby and the Test arena was proved again.

There is plenty to like even if the old issue of the scrum reared its head, especially out wide, where man for man there is nothing to suggest that the Wallabies backline couldn’t become the world’s glamour division in time for the Webb Ellis trophy.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Wallabies and Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper has committed to Australian Rugby for another year in a deal that will take him through until the end of 2015.

The 26-year-old flyhalf returned to national duty in the recent Spring Tour after overcoming an injury that curtailed his Super Rugby season and will be keen to add to his 53 Test caps next year.

“I really enjoyed the Spring Tour, even though some of the results weren’t what we wanted,” he said.

“We’re working hard to improve and I’m confident we’ve got a great group of players going into 2015.

“I love being at the Reds and playing rugby for Australia, and am looking forward to the opportunities next year.”

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End Of Year ToursOnce again the four Rugby Championship teams have been and gone but this time they did not have it all their own way on their annual visit to the British Isles as it ended five wins apiece from the 10 Tests.

Ireland beat both South Africa and Australia, Wales downed the former and England the latter, and Scotland defeated Argentina.

Admittedly, the Pumas are not part of rugby union’s traditional southern hemisphere big three, and the incomparable All Blacks sailed through their Tests unbeaten, but even discounting the Scottish win over Argentina the matches against the three giants from the south only ended 5-4 to the visitors.

Former England and Lions great Jeremy Guscott has been out and about  during November and here he selects a XV for both the home nations and the Rugby Championship sides.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

The Australian Rugby Union has issued a formal written warning to David Pocock following his arrest on Sunday.

In a statement published on Monday afternoon, the ARU said, “While we appreciate David has personal views on a range of matters, we’ve made it clear that we expect his priority to be ensuring he can fulfil his role as a high-performance athlete.

“The matter is now subject to legal proceedings and we will now let the legal process take its course.”

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All BlacksReigning champions New Zealand remained the team to beat less than a year out from the World Cup in England after yet another successful November campaign in Europe.

There’s nothing new in the All Blacks being the yardstick for the global game and their rivals will take some comfort in knowing New Zealand have yet to win the World Cup on foreign soil.

So the fact they were pushed close by both England (24-21) and Wales (34-16) this month before emerging victorious won’t have done the All Blacks any harm, nor will the success of a virtual second-choice side in preserving their unbeaten record against Scotland.

However, all these matches demonstrated how no team goes for the full 80 minutes quite like New Zealand, who have enviable depth.

England found themselves needing two scores in the closing stages against the All Blacks and managed one while Wales conceded 24 points in the final 17 minutes.

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AustraliaEnglandA try in both halves from Ben Morgan helped England claim a well-deserved 26-17 victory over Australia at Twickenham.

England displayed excellent composure in defence and made the most of their possession by running in two tries to claim a massive psychological advantage with the World Cup a few months away.

The Wallabies outscored the hosts 14-13 in the second half but failed to overturn a 10-point half-time deficit.

Scrum dominance, allied to fine work at the breakdown led by England captain Chris Robshaw, were the cornerstones of England’s victory.

The win saw England end the November programme with a 50 percent success rate after defeats by both world champions New Zealand (24-21) and South Africa (31-28) were followed by last week’s 28-9 win over Samoa.

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WalesSouth AfricaWales (3) 12 / 6 (3) Springboks (Final Score)

Wales and the South African Springboks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 16:30 SA Time (14:30 BST & GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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Take Note that the England vs Australia game was at the same time slot as the Wales vs South Africa game, therefore we concentrated on the Wales vs South Africa game, with SCORE UPDATES at the Bottom of the Article on the England vs Australia game.

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Chris Robshaw

Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

England captain Chris Robshaw is an “absolute pest” according to Australia counterpart and fellow openside flank Michael Hooper.

The two loose forwards will be involved in a contest to boss the breakdown when England face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday, less than a year out from the teams’ 2015 World Cup pool clash at the London ground.

Yet even though Robshaw has established himself as England coach Stuart Lancaster’s undoubted first-choice captain, there are those who continue to question whether his leadership skills offset the fact he is not a turnover specialist in the mould of New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw.

Lancaster has faced repeated demands to abandon England’s policy of selecting overseas-based players in “exceptional circumstances” only and revive the Test career of impressive flank Steffon Armitage, the reigning European player of the year, who has been starring for French and European champions Toulon.

But Hooper, one of the best scavenging openside flanks in the modern game, said Robshaw’s qualities as a flank should not be discounted.

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Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon returns to the Australian starting lineup in one of three changes ahead of their final year-end Test, against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

With Tevita Kuridrani unavailable due to a low-grade ankle injury, Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has been selected at outside centre, which allows Rob Horne to earn a starting position on the wing.

The starting line-up is otherwise unchanged with McMahon part of a back row including captain Michael Hooper and Ben McCalman, locks Sam Carter and Rob Simmons, and a front row of James Slipper, Saia Fainga’a and Sekope Kepu.

In the backs Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley continue their play-making partnership,Matt Toomua joins Adam Ashley-Cooper in the centres, with a back three consisting of Israel Folau, Rob Horne and Henry Speight.

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Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees has been handed his first start of the 2014 Internationals against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday with Owen Farrell reverting to the bench.

The Gloucester Rugby centre, who started every game in last season’s Six Nations campaign, takes the No 12 jersey and shifts Saracen Owen Farrell to the replacements’ bench as George Ford is retained at flyhalf.

Up front, Northampton Saints pair Tom Wood and Dylan Hartley take over from James Haskell (Wasps) and Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) at blindside flank and hooker respectively.

Despite those changes to the run-on side, the same match-day 23 who beat Samoa 28-9 last weekend will be on duty as England look to secure a 10th victory in 13 Twickenham Tests.

Reviewing his selection, Head Coach Stuart Lancaster praised Twelvetrees for his committed self-development over the current campaign.

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EnglandEngland head coach Stuart Lancaster has retained the 23 players that faced Samoa for this weekend’s Test match against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

The same 23-man squad that secured a first win of the autumn against Samoa will line up against the Wallabies at Twickenham Stadium for the final November Test.

Gloucester Rugby centre Billy Twelvetrees keeps his place and will compete with Saracens’ Owen Farrell for the inside centre slot, as explained by head coach Stuart Lancaster earlier today.

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George Ford

George Ford

England coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed that George Ford will stay at flyhalf for Saturday’s clash against Australia.

Ford made a strong full debut in the 28-9 victory over Samoa at Twickenham and Lancaster wants him to continue in the No 10 jersey worn by Owen Farrell for most of the coach’s reign.

The experiment of moving Farrell to inside centre may be abandoned after just one match, with Lancaster giving serious consideration to selecting Billy Twelvetrees in the position he last called his own in the second Test of the tour to New Zealand.

Twelvetrees impressed as a second-half replacement against Samoa and is locked in a two-way duel with Farrell to face the Wallabies in the climax to England’s autumn campaign.

“George has earned the right to start again. He’s played well enough for that,” Lancaster said.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani has been ruled out of Saturday’s match against England at Twickenham with an ankle injury.

The in-form Wallabies centre picked up the injury early in the second half of their 26-23 defeat to Ireland. Tests on Monday revealed a low grade tear, meaning Kuridrani won’t be available for the match against England, although he should be clear by the time Super Rugby rolls around.

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Thomas Waldrom

Thomas Waldrom

Stuart Lancaster has recalled 34 players to Pennyhill Park to prepare for Saturday’s final International against Australia at Twickenham Stadium.

Exeter Chiefs’ in form No 8 Thomas Waldrom, who has scored seven tries in eight Premiership games this season, replaces Billy Vunipola.

The Saracens man suffered concussion in Saracens’ defeat to Northampton Saints at the weekend will undergo the Graduated Return To Play protocol at his club.

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AustraliaAustralia have slipped another place to fifth in the latest World Rugby Rankings with France, Japan, Tonga, Canada and Namibia also falling after defeats.

Australia’s 26-23 loss to Ireland on Saturday has seen the Wallabies slip another place to fifth – equalling their lowest ever position since the World Rugby Rankings were introduced in October 2003.

The Wallabies headed into the match in Dublin sitting just one hundredth of a rating point above England, but will now travel to Twickenham to face Stuart Lancaster’s men this weekend behind two northern hemisphere nations with Ireland strengthening their hold on third place with the win.

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Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt may have spent the night in hospital recovering from appendix surgery but if he needed anything to raise his spirits then Sunday’s press would do the trick.

‘Ireland have the world’s best coach’ read the headline in the (Irish) Sunday Independent following the epic and courageous 26-23 victory over Australia on Saturday ensuring the Six Nations champions completed their first double over South Africa and the Wallabies since 2006.

Former Ireland lock Neil Francis opined that after both sides had played like the Harlem Globetrotters in the first-half – the Irish roared into a 17-0 lead only for Australia to score 20 points before Jonathan Sexton levelled to make it 20-20 at halftime – Schmidt’s call at the interval secured victory.

“Joe Schmidt realised that if he did not cool the pace of this game, Ireland would lose it hands down,” wrote Francis.

“Quite often, the race goes to the slow and Ireland were quite the more measured side and chose to kick and play territory far more intelligently than they had in the first half.”

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George Ford

George Ford

Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell

England coach Stuart Lancaster will make potentially the most important selection decision of his tenure when he chooses between George Ford and Owen Farrell as his starting flyhalf for next week’s match with Australia.

Ford, 21, was handed his first start on Saturday and grabbed the opportunity with both hands as England beat Samoa 28-9.

In 80 minutes of a patchy overall team performance he tried more, and achieved more in terms of inventive attacking ideas, than steady and reliable Farrell has mustered in the last 18 months.

He also landed five of his seven goal kicks, an area where Farrell is considered to have the edge.

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Gilbert Rugby BallOnly one more Internatonal Test to be played today, that between Georgia vs Japan at 17:00 SA Time and Georgian Time, the rest of the results are in already!

Some surprising results all around, with the Italian Azzurri holding the Springboks to a limited win, Ireland narrowly beating the Wallabies, Wales containing the All Blacks untill the 69th minute before letting in 3 quick tries and France falling to a spirited Argentinian Pumas side.

The rest of the results, well they are pure wall decorations, for want of a better expletive.

The Weekend’s International Results are as follows:

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Four International Tests overlapped or at least partly overlapped one another between 18:30 to almost midnight on Saturday 22 November 2014, SA Time.
Seeing as all 4 matches were broadcast LIVE on TV in South Africa… although on 2 different SuperSport channels, we hosted all FOUR in one GLOBAL ARTICLE!

 

IrelandAustraliaIreland (20) 26 / 23 (20) Wallabies (Final Score)

Ireland and the Australian Wallabies did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland at 18:30 SA Time (16:30 BST & GMT, 03:30 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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WalesNew ZealandWales (3) 16 / 34 (3) All Blacks (Final Score)

Wales and the New Zealand All Blacks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 19:30 SA Time (17:30 BST & GMT, 06:30 Sunday NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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EnglandSamoaEngland (13) 28 / 9 (6) Samoa (Final Score)

England and Samoa did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Twickenham, London, England at 21:00 SA Time (19:00 BST & GMT, 09:00 Sunday Samoa Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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FranceArgentinaFrance (3) 13 / 18 (15) Los Pumas (Final Score)

France and the Argentinian Pumas did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Stade de France, Paris, France at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 GMT, 17:00 Arg Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

Wing Henry Speight will finally make his Test debut for Australia, against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

His inclusion is one of four changes to the Wallabies’ starting line-up, following their three-point loss to France last weekend.

The 26-year-old Speight will be the third player to make his debut for Australia on the team’s European tour, joining Sean McMahon and Tetera Faulkner.

In the three other changes, lock Sam Carter, back row forward Luke Jones and centre Matt Toomua will join a starting XV that has 488 games of Test experience.

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IrelandSix Nations champions, Ireland have made two changes to their starting line-up for their match against Australia at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Veterans Gordon D’Arcy and Rory Best are the only two changes from the team that beat South Africa a fortnight ago.

D’Arcy, who will win his 81st cap, comes in at centre for the injured Jared Payne while Best, who will make his 78th appearance for Ireland, has recovered from injury to take his place at hooker, dropping Sean Cronin to the bench.

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IRBThe Wallabies 26-29 loss to France in Paris will result in Australia moving to 4th position overall in the IRB rankings.

Meanwhile Ireland, who defeated Georgia 49-7, moves into the top three in the world.

This is despite Joe Schmidt’s men not gaining any rankings points over 15th placed Georgia, and they will jump from fifth to third in the biggest move of the weekend.

Likewise the All Blacks made no difference and remain number one after playing eighth placed Scotland.

The Springboks improved their position by nearly a full ranking point with their 31-28 win over England.

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FranceAustraliaFrance coach Philippe Saint-Andre insisted the best side won after their 29-26 victory over Australia on Saturday.

The Wallabies almost snatched victory late in Paris after Rob Simmons reduced the deficit to three points in the dying minutes at the Stade de France.

But France held on for the win after Ben Alexander dropped the ball in the final minute as the home team recorded just their third victory against Australia since 2005.

Post-game, Saint-Andre was adamant his team were deserved winners, despite almost throwing away the lead.

“I truly believe the best team won today,” said Saint-Andre.

“Today we can be happy about the intensity and the ferocity the entire French side displayed during the game.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Wayward back Kurtley Beale left Australia to join up with his Wallaby teammates in Europe on Saturday, saying he wants to redeem himself after fearing his international career was over.

Beale received a call-up to join the Wallabies for the last two matches of their northern hemisphere tour after being left out of the touring party for disciplinary breaches.

Beale has not played for Australia since the Wallabies’ loss in Cape Town against South Africa on 27 September.

On the ensuing flight to Argentina to play the Pumas Beale had an argument with then Wallabies business manager Di Patston, which quickly descended into a major scandal engulfing the Australian Rugby Union and leading to the resignations of Patston and Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.

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FranceAustraliaFrance (17) 29 / 26 (16) Wallabies (Final Score)

France and the Australian Wallabies did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Stade de France, Paris, France at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 France Time, 20:00 GMT, 07:00 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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AustraliaWallabies prop Sekope Kepu will play his milestone 50th Test for Australia when they take on France at Stade de France on Saturday.

The talented 28-year-old will become just the sixth Australian prop to reach the 50-game milestone – joining a group which includes Ben Alexander (70 games), Benn Robinson and Al Baxter (69 games), James Slipper (60 games) and Ewen McKenzie (51 games).

Kepu will reach the mark in his seventh year of competing at international level, after making his debut against Italy in 2008 – with the honour adding to an already special season which also included winning a maiden Super Rugby title for the Waratahs.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika congratulated Kepu on his achievement.

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FranceFrance have stuck true to their winning formula by naming the same starting team that defeated Fiji 40-15 last weekend for their clash with Australia.

There were no injury concerns in the French camp and as such coach Philippe Saint-Andre decided to keep faith in his players.

“All the players who started (against Fiji) are at 100 percent and we wanted to go further with this team,” Saint-Andre said.

France picked up their first win of three November Tests last Saturday, boosting their confidence ahead of the game against the Wallabies, a side that put the French to the sword in June when they played in Australia.

“We will have to raise our level against one of the top nations in the world,” Saint-Andre added.

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Philippe Saint-Andre

Philippe Saint-Andre

France have “revenge” on their minds ahead of Saturday’s international Test against Australia.

Philippe Saint-Andre’s team suffered three straight defeats by the Wallabies on their June tour Down Under, and two of those were humiliating.

Either side of a dour 0-6 reverse in Melbourne, France were thumped 50-23 in Brisbane and 39-13 in Sydney.

“We have to take a revenge three times over,” said Saint-Andre – after Les Bleus cruised to a 40-15 success over Fiji in Marseille at the weekend, while Australia triumphed 33-28 in Cardiff for their 10th successive victory over Wales.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Australia coach Michael Cheika insisted that defeat by Wales never crossed his mind despite his side trailing by a point going into the final eight minutes of a game the Wallabies eventually edged 33-28.

The teams had been level at 21-all after a see-saw first-half, but Wales were awarded a penalty try in the second half which saw them regain the lead after a Bernard Foley penalty.

But the Wallabies stuck to their task and the flawless Foley struck a sweet drop-goal to retake the lead and then a late penalty to extend his team’s winning streak over Wales to 10.

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Gilbert Rugby BallNine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.

Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.

In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.

On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.

It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.

Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.

 

The results of the weekend are as follows:

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Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon

Melbourne Rebels flanker Sean McMahon will make his senior Australia debut against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

The 20-year- old replaces injured Scott Fardy and is one of two changes to the side that lost 29-28 to New Zealand in October.

Number 8, Ben McCalman, takes over from Scott Higginbotham, who is also sidelined through injury.

Quade Cooper and Will Genia are among the replacements after starting in the win over Barbarians at Twickenham.

McMahon featured in the Baa-baas game and has been rewarded for a strong performance with a starting place against Wales.

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WalesGeorge North is set to start at centre when Wales face Australia in the first of their November internationals at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The dynamic Northampton wing was named at outside centre by Wales coach Warren Gatland on Tuesday after injuries deprived him of regular midfield backs Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams.

Now North will partner fellow British and Irish Lion Jamie Roberts in midfield, with his usual left wing berth taken by Scarlets’ Liam Williams.

However, North does have experience of playing in midfield, having started there when Wales beat France during last season’s Six Nations and he has also started there for English champions Northampton.

At scrum-half, Kiwi boss Gatland has chosen Rhys Webb ahead of 87-times capped Mike Phillips.

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WalesWales’ Jonathan Davies has failed to recover from injury in time to face Australia and so Northampton wing George North will switch to midfield.

It means Liam Williams starts on the wing with Leigh Halfpenny at fullback.

And Rhys Webb has been selected at scrum-half ahead of Mike Phillips for the match at the Millennium Stadium.

“We have been impressed with the form of Rhys and Dan [Biggar] at half-back for the Ospreys,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said.

“It will be good to see them together on this stage again.”

Bath loose-head Paul James is preferred to Gethin Jenkins, with the Blues player dropping to the bench.

Sam Warburton will lead the team from open-side, with Dan Lydiate taking the blind-side spot.

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AustraliaWallabies backrower Matt Hodgson will be given the honour of captaining Australia in Saturday’s opening match of the 2014 Spring Tour against the Barbarians at Twickenham.

New head coach Michael Cheika has given Hodgson the responsibility of leading a team which boasts 495 Test caps in the starting line-up, and which also includes four players who will wear the green and gold jersey for the first time in 2014.

The clash against the Barbarians is an uncapped international, although will see playmakers Quade Cooper and Will Genia, winger Henry Speight and backrower Sean McMahon receive their first opportunities for Australia this year.

An extended nine-man bench has also been named for the clash with one player to be omitted following Thursday afternoon’s training session in London.

Cheika said the team was looking forward to the opportunity on Saturday.

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