- Folau, Mowen and Leali'ifano handed Test debuts
- James O'Connor partners Will Genia at halfback
Photo: Getty Images
Robbie Deans has named three Test debutants in his Australia side to face the British and Irish Lions in the first Test at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Right wing Israel Folau, inside centre Christian Leali’ifano and blindside flanker Ben Mowen are all set for their senior international debuts in Brisbane having impressed over the course of the Super 15 season.
James O’Connor is entrusted with the number 10 shirt and partners Will Genia at halfback, while Queensland Reds lock James Horwill captains the Wallabies in their bid to secure successive series triumphs over the Lions.
Elsewhere, Digby Ioane completes his comeback from knee surgery to claim the left wing berth, with Berrick Barnes starting at full back and seeming certain to offer another option at first-receiver whenever necessary.
The bench boasts plenty of Test experience, with the likes of Liam Gill and Kurtley Beale all capable of influencing at the highest level.
But the big draw of the hosts’ line-up is code-crosser Folau, whose ascension into the Australia set-up crowns a career that has already seen him represent his country at rugby league before a two-year stint in Aussie Rules football. Remarkably, he is still only 24 years old.
Speaking to the assembled press, Mowen – who captains the Brumbies and will call the Wallabies’ lineout – outlined the importance of the tight exchanges.
“You know what they [the Lions] are going to bring,” he said. “They're going be good at the lineout, good at the scrum, good at the maul, good at the pick-and drive stuff.
“If we're not doing our jobs from one to eight then we're not going to give our guys in the backs opportunities.”
Australia team to face the British and Irish Lions on Saturday, June 22 (kick-off 11:00am BST): 15. Berrick Barnes, 14. Israel Folau, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Christian Leali'ifano, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. James O'Connor 9. Will Genia 1. Benn Robinson , 2. Stephen Moore 3. Ben Alexander 4. Kane Douglas 5. James Horwill (captain) 6. Ben Mowen 7. Michael Hooper 8. Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: 16.Saia Fainga'a, 17. James Slipper, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Rob Simmons, 20. Liam Gill, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Pat McCabe, 23. Kurtley Beale.