Mumm’s the word: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika seeks Australia set-piece boost against South Africa
The current Rugby Championship holders are seeking to avoid a record-equalling seventh consecutive test defeat having already suffered back-to-back heavy losses against New Zealand at the start of the campaign
Michael Cheika bolstered Australia’s line-out as the Wallabies coach made two changes to the starting team for the Rugby Championship test against South Africa in Brisbane on Saturday.
Reece Hodge earns his first start for Australia after impressing off the bench in the 29-9 loss to New Zealand in Wellington two weeks ago.
He replaces winger Adam Ashley-Cooper, who has returned to his French club side Bordeaux.
In the other change, Dean Mumm will start at blindside flanker and partner David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the back row.
World Cup flanker Scott Fardy has been left out of the match-day squad.
Mumm had two strong performances off the bench in the Rugby Championship and has been selected to match the Springboks’ traditionally strong set-piece.
Cheika named an extended nine-man bench with one to be omitted following the final training run on Friday.
If selected, Melbourne Rebels back row Lopeti Timani is in line to become the eighth Wallabies debutant this year as Cheika looks to rebuild the team.
Timani looks Australia’s best option for a traditional running number eight, while Sean McMahon is back in contention after playing for the Wallabies in June’s three-test home series loss against Six Nations champions England.
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Lock Rory Arnold is set to return to the Wallabies fold after overcoming an elbow injury.
There could also be a return for French-based winger Drew Mitchell, who has battled a groin injury and hasn’t featured for the Wallabies since the World Cup final in London in October.
Australia have lost their last six tests, three of them against New Zealand, and another defeat would equal the team’s worst run in the post-1995 professional era.
Seven consecutive defeats in 2005 eventually led to the sacking of then coach Eddie Jones.
Australia, who are the Rugby Championship holders, lie on the bottom of the four-nation standings having conceded 71 points in their two heavy losses to the world champion All Blacks.
Australia team to South Africa in Brisbane on Saturday
Israel Folau; Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Bernard Foley, Reece Hodge; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Dean Mumm; Adam Coleman, Kane Douglas; Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (capt), Scott Sio
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Lopeti Timani, Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Tevita Kuridrani, Drew Mitchell