Archetypal team man Rob Simmons will hit a 100-Test milestone in the low-key fashion he favours when the Wallabies complete their Rugby World Cup pool duties against Georgia.
Veteran lock Simmons was promoted onto the bench for Friday’s match in Shizuoka along with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, while Michael Hooper and Adam Coleman have made way.
Forwards coach Simon Raiwalui indicated the shuffling among the reserves was related to Australia having become assured of qualification when pool rivals Fiji lost to Wales on Wednesday night.
It took a layer of pressure off against the tier two Georgians and allowed them to fully rest regular captain Hooper and Coleman, who both had general soreness but could have comfortably played, he said.
“At the moment they’re just little niggles that are nothing too major,” Raiwalui said.
“With that (qualification) confirmed, we decided to go that way.”
It was the perfect outcome for 30-year-old Simmons, who avoided much of the fanfare that may have otherwise accompanied his milestone.
A first-choice lock in the 2015 campaign, he has become more appreciated for is off-field influence and leadership over the last two years. Fourteen of his last 17 Tests have been off the bench.
Matchday captain Pocock hailed the the man from Theodore in central Queensland for his reliability and desire to put the team ahead of personal ambition.
“It’s very special for him but it’s typical though, he didn’t want anything made of it until after the game,” Pocock said.
“He’s a well-loved member of the team and of those guys who goes about his business. It’s pretty amazing to have someone like him on the bench, to be able to call on someone with that experience, knowing that he steps up when he’s needed.”
Izack Rodda, who has effectively replaced Simmons as a first-choice Test second-rower, remembers the influence of the veteran in his rookie Queensland Reds campaign five seasons ago.
“I started when Simmo was top and I certainly learned my trade under him. He guided me around my footy journey so I’ve got a lot of time for him in that aspect.”
Rodda and Pocock both talked up the strength of the Georgia pack and said they would provide an ideal measuring stick for the Wallabies heading into a likely quarter-final against England next week.
Wallabies: Kurtley Beale, Jordan Petaia, James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Matt To’omua, Nic White, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock (c), Jack Dempsey, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio. Res: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Will Genia, Christian Lealiifano, Dane Haylett-Petty.
Two World Cup fixtures have been called off due to an impending typhoon:
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