August 23, 2018 / 3:24 AM / 10 months ago

Props dropped as Wallabies look to improve set-piece

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - Wales vs Australia - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - November 11, 2017 Wales' Liam Williams gets past a tackle from Australia's Tom Robertson Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Props Tom Robertson and Sekope Kepu have paid the price for Australia’s poorly performing scrum by being dropped to the bench for the Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

Regular first-choice loosehead prop Scott Sio, who was injured and missed last week’s 38-13 loss to the All Blacks, returns to the starting side in place of Robertson.

Kepu, who has won 95 caps for the Wallabies but was regularly twisted or shunted backwards by Joe Moody last week, has been replaced by Allan Alaalatoa.

Hooker Folau Faingaa is also expected to make his debut off the bench after he replaced Tolu Latu, whose wayward lineout throwing against the All Blacks contributed to an all-round terrible set-piece for the Wallabies in Sydney.

Outside back Tom Banks could also make his test debut from the bench, with last week’s debutant Jack Maddocks promoted to the starting lineup.

Maddocks, the scorer of the Wallabies only try last week, has taken the number 14 jersey from Haylett-Petty, who has moved to fullback to replace the injured Israel Folau.

Folau injured his ankle in the match in Sydney and his absence could be sorely felt by the Wallabies, who often rely on the fullback as their major attacking threat.

Team: 15-Dane Haylett-Petty, 14-Jack Maddocks, 13-Reece Hodge, 12-Kurtley Beale, 11-Marika Koroibete, 10-Bernard Foley, 9-Will Genia, 8-David Pocock, 7-Michael Hooper (captain), 6-Lukhan Tui, 5-Adam Coleman, 4-Izack Rodda, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1-Scott Sio

Replacements: 16-Folau Faingaa, 17-Tom Robertson, 18-Sekope Kepu, 19-Rob Simmons, 20-Pete Samu, 21-Nick Phipps, 22-Matt Toomua, 23-Tom Banks

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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