Australia rugby selectors named four newcomers and recalled Mark Gerrard and Dan Vickerman for the season-opening Test against Samoa on July 17.
Melbourne Rebels scrum-half Nick Phipps and New South Wales Waratahs lock Sitaleki Timani were picked in the starting 15, while fellow rookies James Hanson and flanker Beau Robinson were chosen on the reserves’ bench.
Gerrard was selected at full-back for his first Test since the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Second-rower Vickerman, who took three years out of professional rugby to study at the U.K.’s Cambridge University, was named on the bench.
Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom will start at blindside flanker for his second appearance at any level this year following hamstring and ankle injuries. Pat McCabe was named at inside center as coach Robbie Deans assesses his midfield options before choosing a 30-man squad for this year’s World Cup. McCabe will have ACT Brumbies teammates Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper either side of him.
James Horwill and Quade Cooper were among the Queensland Reds players rested after the team won the Super Rugby title four days ago.
AUSTRALIA: Mark Gerrard, James O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Matt Giteau, Nick Phipps, Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson, Rocky Elsom (captain), Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu.
Reserves: James Hanson, To Be Announced, Dan Vickerman, Scott Higginbotham, Beau Robinson, Will Genia, Kurtley Beale.