Horwill returns to Wallabies pack for France test

The 29-year-old lock’s elevation from the bench for his third start in nine tests this year is the only change to the team that beat Wales 33-28 in Cardiff last weekend.


Coach Michael Cheika has yet to finalise his bench and, as is his custom, will name the seven replacements later in the week.

Sekope Kepu will become the sixth Australian prop to play 50 tests after retaining his place in a pack which struggled against the Welsh and gave up a penalty try from a five-metre scrum.

Horwill’s recall to play alongside his Queensland Reds team mate Rob Simmons is an indication that Cheika wants a little more aggression from his forwards.

Australia swept France 3-0 under Cheika’s predecessor Ewen McKenzie in a series on home soil in June but the new coach expects a much stiffer challenge in Paris, where the Wallabies were beaten 33-6 two years ago.

“The French have a completely different mindset when they are playing at home, as well as some exciting new players in their squad, and we are under no illusions as to the intensity they are going to bring to the game,” Cheika said in a media release.

“For us, it is still early days and we are getting used to a new system in attack and defence. I was happy with the first steps we took against Wales.”The challenge for us this week was to ensure that we raised the bar much higher in terms of our accuracy and intensity at training.

“We really want to do Australia proud against France this weekend.”

After the match against France, Australia play Ireland in Dublin before concluding their tour against England at Twickenham.

Team: 15-Israel Folau, 14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 12-Christian Lealiifano, 11-Joe Tomane, 10-Bernard Foley, 9-Nick Phipps, 8-Ben McCalman, 7-Michael Hooper (captain), 6-Sean McMahon, 5-Rob Simmons, 4-James Horwill, 3-Sekope Kepu, 2-Saia Faingaa, 1-James Slipper.

Replacements: To be announced.

(Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by John O’Brien)