Moore back to lead Wallabies

Stephen Moore will assume the Wallabies captaincy, as well as the number two jersey when they face Italy in Brisbane on Saturday.

Moore returns to the run-on side after starting on the replacements bench as back-up to Tatafu Polota-Nau in the Tests against Fiji and Scotland.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is set to see a host of new faces push their Test credentials against Italy, after ringing the changes for their final June hitout.

Cheika said before the series he was open to using the majority of his squad throughout the series and this match is the one he has chosen for radical change, with six alterations in the starting XV for Saturday’s clash, though tor the first time this series, there are no debutants to start, after the Wallabies fielded five across the opening two June Tests.

Moore's return to the starting hooker spot and the on-field captaincy headlines the reshuffle, while Lopeti Timani, Rob Horne and Sefa Naivalu will play their first Tests of the series, coming in for Scott Higginbotham, Tevita Kuridrani and Eto Nabuli, respectively.

Scott Sio’s minutes late in the game against Scotland were enough to prove his worth as a run-on prop, lining up alongside childhood friend Allan Alaalatoa for the first time in a Wallabies Test.

Rory Arnold has usurped his club captain Sam Carter for a spot in the second row, reuniting with Adam Coleman, after the pair became a regular duo in 2016.

Horne has not played a Test since last year’s opening Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney and was a late call-up into the squad to replace the injured Samu Kerevi.

Moore will become the 10th most capped international player, surpassing Italian Martin Castrogiovanni and England’s Jason Leonard in his 120th Test.

The hooker is 19 Tests shy of Australia’s Test record, with George Gregan’s 139 Tests still the mark to beat.

Karmichael Hunt has seemingly cemented himself in the number 12 spot, albeit in the absence of Kurtley Beale, getting a third consecutive start in the position after initially being in the squad as a full-back.

Australia has never lost to Italy and the Wallabies will be looking to finish their June Series on a high, after copping plenty of flak for a sub-par performance against Scotland in Sydney.

The clash ifs their last before August’s Bledisloe, with players heading back to their Super Rugby clubs next week for the final two home and away round of the competition.

Cheika will name his bench for the third Test on Friday, with Lukhan Tui, Marika Koroibete, Jack Dempsey and Jake Gordon the only players in the squad who are yet to be given an opportunity to play.

The Wallabies take on Italy on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AET LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here. 

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: tbc

Date: Saturday, June 24
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 15:00 local (05:00 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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