Halfpenny back for Wales for test vs Wallabies
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny was back for Wales after more than a year out, and Australia flanker David Pocock will start at blindside for the first time in the teams’ test at Millennium Stadium tomorrow.
Halfpenny tore ligaments in his right knee in September 2015, in Wales’ last warmup match for the Rugby World Cup, and didn’t return to action until June. Besides the Rugby World Cup, he missed the Six Nations and the tour of New Zealand in June.
His recall yesterday, along with right winger Alex Cuthbert for the injured Liam Williams, gives Wales an allBritish Lions back five. Williams injured his left ankle last month.
Wales was also without regular captain Sam Warburton, who is still recovering from cheekbone and neck injuries; No. 8 Taulupe Faletau, who is recovering from ligament damage in his left knee; and lock Alun Wyn Jones, who left the camp because of the death of his father, Tim.
Without them, Wales’ starting XV boasts 802 caps, and the captaincy was passed to prop Gethin Jenkins, who will lead Wales for a seventh time and third against Australia.
There were two uncapped players in the reserves, Newport lock Cory Hill and Ospreys flyhalf Sam Davies.
Pocock has played No. 8 recently when fit, but with Dean Mumm suspended for the match for striking Brodie Retallick in the 37-10 loss to New Zealand two weeks ago, Pocock was moved to No. 6 and Lopeti Timani was brought in at No. 8. Michael Hooper was the openside flanker.
Coach Michael Cheika resisted playing Scott Fardy to check Wales’ dual openside combination with his own. It meant the back of the lineout was shorter, but Cheika was confident Timani, who played lock in Super Rugby, would rise to the occasion.
Tevita Kuridrani replaced the injured Samu Kerevi at outside center, and New South Wales hooker Tolu Latu could make his debut from the reserves because regular backup James Hanson broke his jaw in training on Tuesday. Hanson has had an operation and the team was hopeful he can stay on tour.
Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate, Luke Chateris, Bradley Davies, Samson Lee, Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins (captain). Reserves: Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, James King, Gareth Davies, Sam Davies, Hallam Amos.
Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Reece Hodge, Henry Speight, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Lopeti Timani, Michael Hooper, David Pocock, Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (captain), Scott Sio. Reserves: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Scott Fardy, Nick Frisby, Quade Cooper, Sefa Naivalu.