For the first time this year the Wallabies team looks something like their full-strength side – at least in the starting 15. The return of Jack Dempsey to the forward pack after almost a year injured, and Samu Kerevi to the centres after being injured in June, should add some much needed starch in both attack and defence.
Walking yellow card Tolu Latu has also been named to start his first test of the year, after coming off the bench (and going back to it after brain explosions) in the last two tests against Argentina and New Zealand. Adam Coleman has also been promoted back to the starting side, sending Rob Simmons back to the reserves.
These four are the only changes to the starting side that lost to the All Blacks in Japan, with Israel Folau moving back to the wing to accommodate Kerevi (with Marika Koroibete – who has started every test this year – dropped completely) and Ned Hanigan joining Simmons in relegation to the bench. Folau Faingaa has also been left out of the side after starting in Japan, with Tatafu Polota-Nau taking the reserve hooker role.
Matt Toomua and Jack Maddocks have come onto the bench, replacing Kerevi and Tom Banks respectively. Only Reece Hodge and Tevita Kuridrani are missing from what would arguably be Australia’s best 23 – and even they would struggle to displace anyone from the named backline.
Kerevi and Dempsey are both powerful ball runners, and their addition to the side will add some hard, straight running to the bag of tricks available to playmaker Bernard Foley. They will also, hopefully, stiffen up the defence somewhat.
The risk of having Latu throwing at the lineout is that the Wallabies may be vulnerable in this area, especially with Simmons on the bench. The lineout has been a weakness for the Wallabies all year, and Wales are likely to attack them in this area.
With the team named by coach Michael Cheika looking as strong as any that have been tried this year, a win against Wales is very possible – and may be a requirement for keeping his job.