Tuesday 16 January 2018

Wallabies boss happy to field inexperienced team as Dublin boozers miss out

Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie
Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie insists he is not taking a gamble by naming an inexperienced line-up against Scotland.

Four of the Wallabies' starting XV due to run out at Murrayfield on Saturday - Brumbies pair Scott Fardy and Joe Tomane as well as the Queensland Reds duo of Chris Feauai-Sautia and Mike Harris - have won fewer than 10 caps.

And after banning five players from the Edinburgh encounter after they were caught up in a late-night drinking scandal ahead of last weekend's victory in Ireland, McKenzie has been forced to name a new centre pairing of Harris and Christian Leali'ifano, who himself has won just 11 caps.

The alterations are among four changes to the side which won 32-15 in Dublin but McKenzie is comfortable with the side he has selected.

He said: "Everyone in the group has played for their country before. It's not like we are going in with uncapped players.

"There are one or two that haven't played as much as some of the others but they have been picked for a reason.

"They have been selected for their country because we think they are good enough. How you get your opportunity is the same for everyone - it's either because of an injury or someone else's misfortune.

"It's about what you do with that opportunity, so I'm really excited to see these guys go out there and make the most of that opportunity."

Harris has faced tough competition establishing himself in the Aussies' midfield, with internationals such as Berrick Barnes, James O'Connor and Pat McCabe blocking the way and limiting him to just eight caps.

But the 25-year-old aims to make the most of his opportunity after recently featuring at full-back, saying: "For myself, it doesn't adjust too much. I play the majority of my rugby at 12.

"Last year I did have a stint at 15 but my favoured position has always been at inside centre, so in that sense I'm pretty excited."

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