Simmons was dropped for second Test, Cheika reveals
RUGBY: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has thrown a selection bombshell ahead of tomorrow night’s must-win second Test against England at AAMI Park, declaring Queensland second-rower Rob Simmons was dropped, not injured.
Reports this week said Simmons was sidelined due to a back injury, but he was left out of the match-day 23 altogether.
Brumby Sam Carter (12 Tests) takes Simmons’ position alongside ACT teammate Rory Arnold in the back row.
Arnold is also inexperienced, only making his international debut in Australia’s 39-28 upset loss in the first Test in Brisbane last Saturday night.
“He (Simmons) was available for selection this week,” Cheika said.
“Any player that’s left out is unhappy, so that’s the challenge for him to improve and get his spot back.
“Here’s a chance for a guy who’s been knocking on the door in that role in Sam Carter and it’s going to be his opportunity to be taken.”
The new second-row combination of Carter and Arnold will be familiar to Wallabies captain and Brumbies hooker Stephen Moore.
“I guess you know them pretty well but it (Test rugby) is a different scenario,” he said.
Ben McCalman and Dean Mumm will be on the bench as back-row replacements, giving the Wallabies more line-out options.
Prop Scott Sio was also dropped altogether after not performing in Brisbane, with fellow front-rower Greg Holmes relegated to the bench.
Sio was sent to the sin bin after being warned by referee Romain Poite for a number of infringements in the scrum last Saturday night.
James Slipper and Sekope Kepu are the replacements up front, while the Rebels’ Sean McMahon was given the nod to fill the void left by the injured David Pocock (eye socket) at No.8.
Cheika said there was never any sure things when it came to team selection.
“A lot of players are vying for the one jersey and that’s the way it should be,” he said.
“It hurts losing and that pain sits inside you.”
England coach Eddie Jones, who has been firing barbs at the Aussies all tour, issued a warning for McMahon, who will give up 26kg to his opposite in Billy Vunipola.
“I don’t know how McMahon will go but I know how Billy’s going to go ... He’s ready to play the game of his life,” Jones said.
For England, George Ford will start at five-eighth with Owen Farrell moving to inside centre, meaning Luther Burrell drops out of the 23.
Jack Nowell comes off the bench to play on the wing for Marland Yarde, who was also left out of the team despite scoring a try last week.
Wallabies squad for second Test at AAMI Park, Melbourne: James Slipper, Stephen Moore (capt), Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper (vice capt), Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Rob Horne (vice capt), Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau. Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Toby Smith, Greg Holmes, Dean Mumm, Ben McCalman, Nick Frisby, Christian Leali’ifano, Luke Morahan.