Kepu and Douglas in call-up for Wallabies French test
THE Wallabies have promoted Waratahs duo Sekope Kepu and Kane Douglas into the starting line-up as they shoot for a record-equalling sixth consecutive win against the French in Paris.
The pair are the only changes to the starting XV for the clash on Sunday morning (Australian time), with Rob Simmons joining the bench in place of the injured Sitaleki Timani, and Berrick Barnes replacing Drew Mitchell.
With new trial rules in place for Test matches on the Spring Tour, squads have been enlarged to 23 players to cater for the inclusion of two prop forwards on the bench.
That will see James Slipper and Paddy Ryan get the chance to play at the Stade de France, with Ryan set to become the 13th newly-capped Wallaby for the year from 12 Test matches if he is required to take the field.
The Wallabies' backline has been decimated by injuries over the past few months, but utility Adam Ashley-Cooper said despite the raft of changes, the group was on its way to becoming a formidable unit.
Ashley-Cooper has played right across the backline as injuries to Kurtley Beale, Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Pat McCabe among others, have taken their toll on Robbie Deans' squad.
"It was disruptive at first," the 28-year-old said of all the injuries.
"You cannot build a combination if injuries are occuring all the time. We have had a lot of changes but I think now we are starting to gel."
Ashley-Cooper has good memories of playing at the Stade De France.
The Waratah three-quarter was part of the team which thumped the then Six Nations champion 59-16 two years ago, running in seven tries as the French let in 46 points in an amazing last 30 minutes of the game.
He knows the World Cup runners-up will be a tougher proposition this time round, but said the Wallabies were ready for the first game of what should be a tough tour.
While the Wallabies will face the new laws for the first time in internationals, the French have been playing under them since August.
The key changes will be seen at the scrum, where "crouch-touch-pause-engage" will be replaced by the shorter "crouch-touch-set", and at the breakdown where attacking teams will be given five seconds to "use the ball or lose it".
WALLABIES: Mike Harris, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ben Tapuai, Pat McCabe, Nick Cummins, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Nathan Sharpe, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson. RESERVES: Stephen Moore, James Slipper, Paddy Ryan, Rob Simmons, Radike Samo, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Berrick Barnes.