Sydney University Football Club (SUFC) has five players in the 23-man line-up to face France at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night in first of a three-Test series against France.
Five-eighth Bernard Foley, 24, an economics graduate and former SUSF Elite Athlete Program (EAP) member, edged out Kurtley Beale for the five-eighth spot after a solid first season in the Super XV competition.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie named Beale on an eight-man bench that includes SUFC prop Paddy Ryan (two caps), halfback Nick Phipps (14 caps) and backrower Ben McCalman (29 caps).
Sydney University’s other representative in the run-on side is fullback Israel Folau (15) caps, while former Sydney University Colt Sam Carter has been selected to make his Wallaby debut in the starting line-up.
The 24-year-old ACT Brumbies second-rower will follow in the footsteps of his father, former Wallaby flanker David Carter when he becomes Wallaby No.879 on Saturday night.
McKenzie chose the new playmaking halves partnership for the opening Test of 2014 with Nic White at No.9 and Foley at No.10.
It will be White’s third starting opportunity for Australia after playing consecutive matches against Argentina and South Africa during the 2013 Rugby Championship, while Foley, who earned four caps during his maiden Test season in 2013, has been rewarded for a dominant Super Rugby campaign. He will also take on the goal-kicking responsibilities in his first starting opportunity for the Wallabies.
McKenzie said form was critical in finalising his 23 man squad.
“We function in a performance environment and so it’s important to reward those who have consistently played at a high level over the course of the season,” the coach said.
“This year we’re in a particularly strong position whereby so many of our players have been performing well for their provinces. The margins are so small but it unfortunately does mean that quality players are going to miss out, which is the case for our opening Test against France.
“However, selection will always be a week-to-week proposition at a Test level and the challenge now is for those players chosen to continue playing at the high level we know they can.”
McKenzie also backed his new playmaking duo to make the most of their opportunity.
“Nic and Bernard are two players who have had a huge influence in the results of their provincial teams over the past two seasons,” he said.
“I’ve also been pleased to see their development as playmakers since getting a taste of Test Rugby last year and you can sense they have a real confidence in running a game.
“We have a very specific style of game we want to play – the Wallaby way – and their two skill-sets complement each other in ensuring we can deliver our game plan on the night.
“They’re also established goal-kickers and you can never underestimate the importance of this skill at an international level.”
Stephen Moore, the 91-Test hooker has been named Wallaby captain for the series, which includes the First Test at Suncorp, the Second Test at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on Saturday, June 14, and the Third Test at Allianz Stadium, Sydney, on Saturday, June 21.
The First Test squad includes:
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds – 49 caps)
2. Stephen Moore (c – ACT Brumbies – 91 caps)
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs – 38 caps)
4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds – 37 caps)
5. Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies – uncapped)*
6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies – 10 caps)
7. Michael Hooper (vc – NSW Waratahs – 28 caps)
8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs – 49 caps)
9. Nic White (ACT Brumbies – 10 caps)
10. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs – 4 caps)
11. Nick Cummins (Western Force – 12 caps)
12. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies – 10 caps)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies – 8 caps)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (vc – NSW Waratahs – 91 caps)
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs – 15 caps)
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs – 46 caps)
17. Pek Cowan (Western Force – 5 caps)
18. Paddy Ryan (NSW Waratahs – 2 caps)
19. James Horwill (Queensland Reds – 48 caps)
20. Ben McCalman (Western Force – 29 caps)
21. Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs – 14 caps)
22. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs – 39 caps)
23. Pat McCabe (ACT Brumbies – 20 caps)