Champion Wallabies flanker David Pocock will captain Australia in his first Test of the year with Michael Cheika naming a mixed team for their World Cup warm-up Test against Samoa.
Pocock, who hasn’t played since March due to an ongoing calf injury, will lead the Wallabies out on to Bankwest Stadium on Saturday in their last Test before flying to Japan ahead of the World Cup tournament.
The 31-year-old flanker is one of several experienced campaigners included in the starting 15, including Test centurions Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Genia and Sekope Kepu.
The latter two have already confirmed they will retire from international rugby after the World Cup, while veteran hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau announced on Wednesday he will join them.
Polota-Nau missed World Cup selection but was one of six players from outside the squad named for the Sydney Test and will start from the bench.
Young Brumbies backrower Rob Valetini is set to make his Test debut after been included in the reserves.
The others from outside the squad are starting fullback Tom Banks, and Luke Jones, Liam Wright and Nick Phipps, who have been named on the bench.
Those players have been training with the Wallabies at their pre-World Cup camp in New Caledonia.
Cheika said his selection was about giving some players additional game time while balancing the training work-load of others.
Regular skipper, flanker Michael Hooper is among those rested.
The Test is just the sixth clash between the two countries and the first since Samoa’s shock nine-point win at ANZ Stadium in 2011.
Three of Australia’s starting 15 have Samoan heritage, including starting hooker Jordan Uelese, who is a chief in his village of Aufaga in the southeast of Upolu Island.
Wallabies: Tom Banks, Dane Haylett-Petty, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Jack Dempsey, David Pocock (capt), Lukhan Salakaia -Loto, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Jordan Uelese, James Slipper. Res: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou, Luke Jones, Liam Wright, Rob Valetini, Nick Phipps, James O’Connor.
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