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Wholesale changes for Wallabies with eye on Grand Slam

PARIS (AFP) – 

Australia coach Michael Cheika has made 12 changes to the side to play against France on Saturday, with an eye on the Grand Slam of the Home Nations.

Will Genia, Henry Speight and Tevita Kuridrani retain their starting spots from last week’s narrow 23-22 victory over Scotland while David Pocock shifts to the number seven jersey and will captain the side with usual skipper Stephen Moore named on the bench.

Pocock will skipper the side for the first time since August 2012, when he led the Wallabies in a 27-18 Bledisloe Cup defeat by New Zealand in Sydney.

The match at the Stade de France will mark the long-awaited debut for inside centre Kyle Godwin, two years after initially joining the Wallabies train-on squad for the 2014 November tour.

Four players — Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Sefa Naivalu and Luke Morahan — will get run-on debuts alongside Godwin.

Moore, Scott Sio and Tom Robertson make up the front row reserves while Waratahs winger Taqele Naiyaravoro could be in line for his first Test since coming off the bench against England in June.

Cheika said he felt the time was right for a reshuffle in the team to give the next generation a chance of a run-out.

“It’s the right time to let a guy prepare as a starter,” he said.

“Sometimes on the finishers, it’s hard to know what you’re going to get because you don’t know when you’re going to go on, it’s hard to prepare.”

Israel Folau, Michael Hooper, Reece Hodge, Sekope Kepu and Dane Haylett-Petty are notable absentees from the match-day squad.

After the France game, the Wallabies, who kicked off their tour with a 32-8 victory over Wales, go on to play Ireland and England. The last time Australia claimed a Grand Slam was back in 1984.

Team (15-1)

Luke Morahan; Sefanaia Naivalu, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, Henry Speight; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Sean McMahon, David Pocock (capt), Scott Fardy; Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas; Allan Alaalatoa, Tolu Latu, James Slipper

Replacements (one to be omitted): Stephen Moore, Scott Sio, Tom Robertson, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Taqele Naiyaravoro

© 2016 AFP

Article source: http://www.france24.com/en/20161117-wholesale-changes-wallabies-with-eye-grand-slam