Qantas Wallaby captain and scrumhalf George Gregan will equal England prop Jason Leonard’s record of 114 Test caps for his country and link up with Mat Rogers at flyhalf, when he leads Australia onto Eden Park in Saturday’s final Tri Nations Test against New Zealand.
Gregan will lead a side with five personnel changes, including three debutants in Alex Kanaar, Lachlan MacKay and Lloyd Johansson, as well five positional changes to the staring lineup from the last Test against South Africa in Perth.
In the second row, Mark Chisholm joins one of two vice captains Nathan Sharpe, in the absence of the injured Daniel Vickerman, with Kanaar coming into the reserves, while George Smith will start at Number 8 linking up with Phil Waugh and Rocky Elsom in the backrow and John Roe returning to the bench.
With Rogers starting at flyhalf for the first time, newly named vice captain, Morgan Turinui will start at inside centre with Clyde Rathbone at outside and Lote Tuqiri, Mark Gerrard and Drew Mitchell making up the back three.
Reserve inside back Lachlan MacKay has been selected in the Wallaby 22 for the first time, as well as utility back Lloyd Johansson, while hooker Adam Freier has been named in the Test team for the first time this year.
Qantas Wallabies Coach Eddie Jones says with four new players, and blokes in new positions the enthusiasm at training has been fantastic.
“The blokes have worked really hard over the last five days and have come together well,” said Jones.
“There’s been plenty of enthusiasm and add that to George equaling Leonard’s record and you have a pretty good combination of experience and youth.”
With regular Number 10s Stephen Larkham, Matt Giteau and Elton Flatley all unavailable due to injury, Jones says Rogers is the right player to start at flyhalf.
“It was a tough decision between Matty Rogers and Lachie MacKay at flyhalf, but we believe Mat has the passing and kicking skills we need to start the game, and he can also take the ball to the line,” said Jones.
“Lachie and Lloyd Johansson have both worked hard since joining the squad in camp last week and are ready to play Test rugby.”
The Wallabies will depart Coffs Harbour for Auckland tomorrow, and will finalise preparations for Saturday’s Test with a training run at Eden Park on Friday.
Tri Nations & Bledisloe Cup
Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 3 September – Eden Park – Auckland
Kick Off: 7.35pm (5.35pm .AEST)
Referee: Chris White
Australian Test Team No. 448
1. Bill Young
2. Brendan Cannon
3. Al Baxter
4. Mark Chisholm
5. Nathan Sharpe (vc)
6. Rocky Elsom
7. Phil Waugh
8. George Smith
9. George Gregan (c)
10. Mat Rogers
11. Lote Tuqiri
12. Morgan Turinui (vc)
13. Clyde Rathbone
14. Mark Gerrard
15. Drew Mitchell
16. Adam Freier
17. Matt Dunning
18. Alex Kanaar *22
19. John Roe
20. Chris Whitaker
21. Lachlan MacKay *22
22. Lloyd Johansson *22
23rd Man: Scott Fava
Note: Nic Henderson will also travel with the team to New Zealand
*22 – First time selected in a Wallaby 22