September 28, 2017 / 7:52 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Rugby-Australia trio make first starts v Springboks

* Cheika says the three men have earned their starting spots

* Former skipper Moore returns to bench (Adds more details, quotes)

BLOEMFONTEIN, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Jack Dempsey, Marika Koroibete and Izack Rodda will make their first starts for Australia in the Rugby Championship clash against South Africa on Saturday, with coach Michael Cheika saying the trio had earned their places in the first team.

Flanker Dempsey will replace Ned Hanigan, while Koroibete will pick up his second cap on the wing instead of Henry Speight. Rodda takes over from Rob Simmons among the locks.

Cheika said all three had deserved an opportunity to start after impressing off the bench in the Southern Hemisphere championship.

The 23-year-old Dempsey has made a strong comeback since missing much of the Super Rugby season with a broken foot and is expected to add a fiery streak to the Wallabies forward pack.

“The eyes roll in the back of the head with Jack, if you know what I mean,” Cheika said.

Rodda continues a whirlwind start to his career after making his Queensland Reds debut earlier this year and winning a first cap off the bench against the All Blacks in Dunedin last month.

Cheika said he was not concerned about giving the 21-year-old the start as he had shown he can handle the big occasion.

“His lineout work is good. He is young, he is eager and like I said, I want to give them these experiences so they can learn,” he added.

“I don’t think there is any risk there because he has come off the bench and played well in two big games and I can’t see why starting is any different.”

Koroibete switched from rugby league last year and won a first cap as a substitute against Argentina in Canberra earlier this month. Cheika said getting the start on Saturday would help his development in union.

“He did well in the first game and now starting he will have a chance to prepare himself for the whole week and get ready,” Cheika said of the 25-year-old Fijian-born winger.

“He still has a bit to work on in terms of finding his lines off set-pieces and things like that but defensively and his work-rate, and stuff like that, he’s on the money.”

Saturday’s test marks a 50th cap for flyhalf Bernard Foley, who is the 54th player to reach a half-century for the Wallabies.

Former captain Stephen Moore is the only major change to the bench, the hooker coming back in place of Jordan Uelese.


15-Israel Folau, 14-Marika Koroibete, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 12-Kurtley Beale, 11-Reece Hodge, 10-Bernard Foley, 9-Will Genia, 8-Sean McMahon, 7-Michael Hooper (captain), 6-Jack Dempsey, 5-Adam Coleman, 4-Izack Rodda, 3-Sekope Kepu, 2-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1-Scott Sio.

Replacements: 16-Stephen Moore, 17-Tom Robertson, 18-Allan Alaalatoa, 19-Rob Simmons, 20-Ned Hanigan, 21-Lukhan Tui, 22-Nick Phipps 23-Samu Kerevi, 24-Henry Speight. (Reporting by Ian Ransom and Mark Gleeson; Editing by Peter Rutherford/John O’Brien)

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