Ewen McKenzie has named the Australian team for the first test against France at Lang Park this Saturday night. The team is:
Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Bernard Foley, Nic White; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (c), James Slipper. Res: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pek Cowan, Paddy Ryan, James Horwill, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Pat McCabe
Obviously the biggest move by Coach McKenzie is the dropping of Will Genia, not just from the team but also the bench. This is a massive step, given the Genia has not been out of the team when available since 2010, for McKenzie and, frankly, is the correct one. Aside from an inspiring performance in the 100th Queensland game last Saturday Genia has been in terrible form this season. Based on form he simply could not be selected. Nic White, conversely, has been in excellent form and deserves his run on spot.
James Horwill has been selected on the bench as the locks to run on are Carter and Simmons. This, again, is the correct move in my view: the Reds back row has been smashed this year whilst at line out time, last week aside, Horwill and Simmons had been less than impressive. I am not sure about Rob Simmons at test match level to be honest: I find him to be too ill disciplined for my liking so will be interested to see how he goes in this game.
This is a team that is, obviously, selected on form and for that McKenzie must be saluted. He is making his mark on the team on the field with these selection decisions as well as off the field with his leadership team selection. Now all he needs is results on the field to lock down his position at the top of rugby in this country.