Matt Giteau will continue at scrumhalf when Australia meet Wales in their season opening Test.
Giteau filled the role on the Wallabie’s end of year tour in 2006 to limited success. Coach John Connolly though has maintained faith in the Force man, and continues his search a midfield partner for Stirling Mortlock. Giteau is expected to shift to inside centre in the second half with veteran scrumhalf George Gregan taking over at the ruck base.
“In the backs we are lucky that Matt Giteau is so versatile,” Wallabies backs coach Scott Johnson told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We are trying to reinvent a new No.9 and see if it fits our play. He’s a wonderful player. Where he is best suited, we are about to find out.”
Mortlock’s Brumbies teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper is the man entrusted with the No 12 shirt, and he will look to cement his spot with a series of solid displays in the run up to the World Cup. Julian Huxley slots in at fullback in the absence of Chris Latham. He has had a solid season with the Brumbies and is one-third of a new look back three that is completed by Drew Mitchell and Mark Gerrard.
Phil Waugh captains the side and will play the fetchers role in an all-Waratah back row with Wycliff Palu and Rocky Elsom.
Waugh and Mortlock will share the captaincy duties over the next seven Tests with the ‘Tahs man rotating with George Smith at openside flank.
Australia - 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 Matt Giteau, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Nathan Sharpe, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Matt Dunning.
Subs: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Dan Vickerman, 19 Stephen Hoiles, 20 George Smith, 21 George Gregan, 22 Scott Staniforth.
Wales - 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Gareth Thomas (c), 13 Jamie Robinson, 12 Sonny Parker, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 James Hook, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Iestyn Thomas, 7 Matthew Rees, 6 Adam Jones, 5 Brent Cockbain, 4 Rob Sidoli, 3 Colin Charvis, 2 Gavin Thomas, 1 Jonathan Thomas.
Subs: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Michael Owen, 19 Scott Morgan, 20 Gareth Cooper, 21 Ceri Sweeney, 22 Gavin Henson.