Preview: Australia v Italy

Australia are looking to end their June Test series on a positive note when they host Italy at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Wallabies will be desperate to bounce back from the disappointing 24-19 defeat to Scotland in Sydney last weekend.

The side came in for heavy criticism from the Australian media and fans, with one supporter's enraged facebook post going viral. Coach Michael Cheika has reportedly pinned the letter from Jack Quigley on the team's notice board as a message to his players.

And Cheika has delivered on his promise to ring the changes in the aftermath of that morale-sapping defeat.

Stephen 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.

Meanwhile. 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.

And 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.

Italy have never beaten the Wallabies and the last time the sides met was way back in 2013. The Azzurri are in a similar situation to the Wallabies, also coming off the back of a shock victory in a match they were favourites to win, going down 22-19 to Fiji after a last-gasp Ben Volavola drop-goal.

And the previous weekend they were dismantled by the Scots 34-13 only a few months after same side beat them 29-0 in the Six Nations.

It's a clash between two sides with low squad morale. But beware of the wounded animal (they say) so expect the players on the pitch to be fighting to prove their worth.

Players to watch: 

For Australia: Keep an eye on Bernard Foley who came in for perhaps the most severe criticism of any of the Wallabies. Foley missed a conversion and a penalty while he was unable to spark his backline into life. World-class players prove their worth by how they respond to criticism and Foley will need a big performance this weekend. Meanwhile, Stephen Moore returns to the starting line-up to captin the side and will be eager to prove that he is the country's best hooker, despite Tatafu Polota-Nau and Tolu Latu knocking on the door. Plus, if he can galvanise the team as skipper, that will do wonders for his claims to the skippering duties, despite many feeling it is Michael Hooper's time.

For Italy: Explosive outside centre Michele Campagnaro is not used to being on the losing side at club level, having been part of Exeter Chiefs' charge to the Premiership title. He will do everything in his power to support his teammates with his intelligent running lines and searing pace. Meanwhile, lock Dean Budd is one to watch. Budd made 15 tackles last weekend against Fiji (the highest number of anyone in the Italy side) and will need to produce similar heroics against a Wallabies side boasting an array of attacking threats.

Head-to-head: Michele Campagnaro versus Rob Horne is a mouth-watering prospect. Horne is moving to the Premiership next season to play for Northampton where he is set to face Campagnaro at Exeter. Both men are wonderful outside centres but who will come up trumps when it comes to defending their channel?

Previous results:

2013: Australia won 50-20 in Torino
2012: Australia won 22-19 in Firenze
2011: Australia won 32-6 in North Shore City
2010: Australia won 32-14 in Firenze
2009: Australia won 34-12 in Melbourne
2008: Australia won 30-20 in Padova
2006: Australia won 25-18 in Rome

Prediction: Australia will bounce back in this one. Wallabies by 15.

The teams:

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: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Reece Hodge

Italy: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Giovambattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Andries van Schalkwyk, 7 Maxime Mbanda, 6 Francesco Minto (c), 5 Dean Budd, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Abraham Steyn, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Carlo Cane, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti

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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