WILL GENIA HAS been dumped from the Wallabies squad to play France on Saturday, with Nic White and Bernard Foley forming a new halfback pairing.
Experienced scrum-half Genia has not even made the bench for the clash in Brisbane on Saturday with coach Ewen McKenzie saying form had been critical in his choices.
“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,” he 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.”
With Genia out, ACT Brumbies star White will start at nine while Foley has been given the out-half berth ahead of NSW Waratahs teammate Kurtley Beale, who is on the bench.
McKenzie also hands a Test debut to Brumbies lock Sam Carter – the son of former Wallaby David Carter – alongside Rob Simmons in the second row with former skipper James Horwill only a replacement.
Wycliff Palu claims the No.8 spot for his 50th appearance while prop James Slipper also earned his 50th cap.
McKenzie 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 gameplan 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 will captain the side for the first time, leading an experienced front row of Slipper and Sekope Kepu, while Carter partners lineout-caller Simmons in the two lock positions.
In the back row, vice-captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper revives his partnership with blindside flanker Scott Fardy, alongside Palu.
Matt Toomua will combine with ACT Brumbies teammate Tevita Kuridrani in the midfield, while there is a consistent look to the back-three in wingers Nick Cummins and Adam Ashley Cooper, along with fullback Israel Folau.
Australia play France in three Tests beginning in Brisbane on Saturday (KO 11.00am Irish time), followed by Melbourne (June 14) and Sydney (June 21).
Australia (v France): Israel Folau; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins; Bernard Foley, Nic White; James Slipper, Stephen Moore (capt), Sekope Kepu; Rob Simmons, Sam Carter; Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pek Cowan, Paddy Ryan, James Horwill, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale.