Injury hit Australia name squad for Bledisloe opener

Reece Hodge will start at 13 for Wallabies
Reece Hodge will start at 13 for Wallabies

Australia head coach Michael Cheika has named Waratahs prop Tom Robertson in the starting line-up for the Rugby Championship opening game against World Champions New Zealand scheduled to be played in Sydney on Saturday.

The last time Australia went on to win the Bledisloe Cup was in 2002 and will be desperate to begin the annual three-game series with a win. However, their preparation was dealt a major blow with Scott Sio failing a fitness test on Thursday.

As a result, Robertson will make his third start in 22 Tests for the Wallabies in a revamped front-row alongside Tatafu Polota-Nau at hooker and Sekope Kepu at blindside.

"He (Sio) could do certain things and he couldn't do others and it was 50/50 but I prefer to call it relatively early in the week and give him a chance to get ready for next week and give Tom a chance to prepare well for this week's contest," said Cheika.

"Roberston is only young and coming in on the scene but I think he's had his best year in the pro game by far.

"I think his season with the Waratahs was excellent and in particular in relation to his work ethic."

Reece Hodge has been named at 13 following injuries to Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi while Jack Maddocks is in line to make his debut after being named on the bench.

Australia line-up:

Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Tom Robertson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Tui, Michael Hooper (c), David Pocock.

Replacements: Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Jack Maddocks.


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