16 Jul 2015

Back to the future for Wallabies

3:27 pm on 16 July 2015

Australia have gone back to the future, recalling Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Greg Holmes, Will Genia and Quade Cooper for their Rugby Championship opener against South Africa in Brisbane this weekend.

In his first team announcement for a home test, coach Michael Cheika also preferred Michael Hooper to David Pocock at openside flanker for Saturday's match

Giteau, who won his 92nd cap against Samoa in 2011, will line-up at second five eighths alongside Cooper at first five.

Cooper last played for Australia with his Queensland Reds partner Genia on the tour of Europe in November 2013.

The All Blacks Israel Dagg and the Wallabies Quade Cooper.

Quade Cooper (right) is back in the Wallabies lineup Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Prop Holmes, who looks set to get his first taste of international rugby in eight years, was named on the bench along with winger Mitchell, who made his 63rd appearance for his country against Wales in December 2012.

Giteau and Mitchell, who have both been in good form for European champions Toulon, had their test careers revived after the Australian Rugby Union altered the rules on the eligibility of overseas-based players earlier this year.

Matt Giteau playing for a World XV against the Springboks in 2014.

A relaxtion of Australia's player eligibility rules means Giteau can play for the Wallabies again Photo: Photosport

Cooper and Giteau are likely to alternate as first receiver with the latter offering more assured game management to complement the Queensland first five's attacking threat.

"With new combinations comes a new level of energy to our team environment and Will, Quade and Matt certainly bring that," Cheika said. "Matt is a true professional and his impact on the team dynamic has been immediate. His form in Toulon and work ethic since joining the squad has been first class."

Bernard Foley, who started 12 of Australia's 14 Tests last year at No.10, was left out of the matchday squad along with his fellow New South Wales Waratahs back Kurtley Beale.

In the pack, Will Skelton gets his second start in a Wallabies shirt with No.8 Scott Higginbotham and blindside flanker Scott Fardy making up for the hulking lock's lack of a lineout game.

Who would occupy the No.7 shirt had attracted most speculation, however, and Cheika decided to stick with incumbent Hooper and name Pocock, who has missed two years of Test rugby through injury, on the bench.

"David has showed tremendous grit and determination to return to the Wallabies in challenging circumstances," Cheika added.

"To be out of the Wallabies environment for two years and return a better a player shows his character. It is something he, and this country should be proud of."

Australia: 15-Israel Folau, 14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 12-Matt Giteau, 11-Rob Horne, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Will Genia, 8-Scott Higginbotham, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Scott Fardy, 5-Rob Simmons, 4-Will Skelton, 3-Sekope Kepu, 2-Stephen Moore (captain), 1-James Slipper

Replacements: 16-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17-Scott Sio, 18-Greg Holmes, 19-James Horwill, 20-David Pocock, 21-Nick Phipps, 22-Matt Toomua, 23-Drew Mitchell