Australia debut for Seán McMahon against Wales

Michael Cheika calls on Melbourne Rebels flanker after powerful performance against Barbarians

 Seán McMahon of Australia breaks with the ball during the Killick Cup match against  the Barbarians   at Twickenham.  Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Seán McMahon of Australia breaks with the ball during the Killick Cup match against the Barbarians at Twickenham. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

Australia coach Michael Cheika has made two changes from the side beaten 29-28 by New Zealand last month for Saturday’s Test match against Wales in Cardiff.

Melbourne Rebels flanker Seán McMahon will make his international debut, replacing an injured Scott Fardy, while number eight Ben McCalman takes over from Scott Higginbotham, who is also sidelined through injury. But the team is otherwise unaltered from that which suffered an agonising Bledisloe Cup loss three weeks ago, which means star half-backs Quade Cooper and Will Genia are on bench duty after starting against the Barbarians last Saturday.

McMahon (20) featured in the Barbarians game, and a strong performance at Twickenham confirmed his place this weekend.

“Going into the Barbarians match it was made clear that players had an opportunity to push their way into the Test team with a strong performance,” said Cheika, who takes charge of his first Test after replacing Ewen McKenzie. “Sean made the most of his opportunity and brought great work-rate and physicality to our game.

“This selection also recognises the outstanding year he has had at all levels of the game, and he thoroughly deserves the chance to debut for Australia.”

Uncapped Western Force prop Tetera Faulkner, meanwhile, is among nine replacements named, with one of that group to be omitted during the next 48 hours.

“I’ve been really pleased with attitude and commitment of the team and by how they have embraced a new environment and way of doing things,” Cheika added. “Everyone has worked really hard on preparing themselves in the best possible way, and we’re all excited about the opportunity to represent Australia and give our absolute best on Saturday.”

Australia have won nine successive Tests against Wales, with Saturday’s game being the countries’ final meeting before Rugby World Cup 2015, where they will face each other in the pool stage.

Australia XV (v Wales): I Folau; A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, C Leali’ifano, J Tomane; B Foley, N Phipps; J Slipper, S Fainga’a, S Kepu, S Carter, R Simmons, S McMahon, M Hooper (caot), B McCalman.

Replacements (from): J Hanson, T Faulkner, B Alexander, J Horwill, W Skelton, M Hodgson, W Genia, Q Cooper, R Horne.

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