Experience counts for little in Ewan's Bledisloe Cup squad

A LACK of international experience counted for little when Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie's picked his inaugural Test squad for tomorrow night's opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

Five uncapped players are in the 23-man squad, with playmaker Matt Toomua holding off the challenge of Quade Cooper to make his debut at flyhalf.

Toomua is the sole debutant in the starting line-up, while fellow uncapped ACT Brumbies team-mates Scott Sio, Scott Fardy, Nic White and Tevita Kuridrani are all on the bench.

McKenzie said he was confident the new group could achieve immediate success when the Wallabies started their campaign to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

"When we picked the team we didn't spend one minute looking at how many Test caps a player had or the number of debutants. It was picked on performance over a sustained period of time and on how we want to play the game," the former Queensland coach said.

"The fact that five guys haven't played a Test before isn't a concern. Everyone has to start from somewhere and we definitely haven't picked them on one game. Rather, they are starting their Test careers off the back of consistently strong performances at a provincial level.

"The reality is that whether it's in Super Rugby or the Test arena, all our guys have a lot of familiarity with who we are playing against. I see that as a positive as we aren't playing anyone we don't already know a lot about.

"If you keep the contest in that space you will find that we've had success in all the head-to-head individual battles at some point and under different circumstances.

"So, if our guys do well against their individual opponent, than I think we've got a gameplan and a game style where we will be able to express ourselves and put the team in a good position to win."

McKenzie's new-look line-up includes eight changes to the starting XV which took the field in the final Test against the British and Irish Lions in Sydney in July.

Ben Mowen moves to No.8 and James O'Connor to the wing, along with the inclusion of prop James Slipper, lock Rob Simmons, flankers Hugh McMeniman and Michael Hooper, fullback Jesse Mogg and Toomua.

Teams

Wallabies: Jesse Mogg, Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali'ifano, James O'Connor, Matt Toomua, Will Genia, Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper, Hugh McMeniman, James Horwill (c), Rob Simmons, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, James Slipper. Replacements: Saia Fainga'a, Scott Sio, Sekope Kepu, Scott Fardy, Liam Gill, Nic White,Quade Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani.

All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Steven Luatua, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty.



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