Local junior Nic White has missed out on selection in the Wallabies final 22 for tomorrow night’s Test against Scotland but there will still be a Maitland connection making their debut for Australia at Hunter Stadium.
NSW Waratahs loose forward Dave Dennis, son of former Maitland Blacks lower grader and West Maitland rugby league player John Dennis, will earn his first cap after performing strongly on the 2009 and 2011 spring tours and being involved in last year’s domestic training squad.
Dennis will be one of the Wallabies breakaways while Maitland Blacks product White, the 21-year-old ACT Brumbies halfback, remains part of the Australian training squad and will be on the sidelines for the first rugby union Test played in the Hunter but yesterday’s announcement gave Melbourne Rebels number nine Nick Phipps the nod to be understudy for incumbent Will Genia.
Dennis will be one of five debutants alongside Reds fullback Luke Morahan, Brumbies prop Dan Palmer and two New Zealand-born backs, the Reds’ Mike Harris (inside centre) and Rebels’ Joe Tomane (wing).
Zimbabwean-born David Pocock will captain the Wallabies for the first time, taking over from the injured James Horwill.
The selectors opted to go with the Waratahs’ Berrick Barnes at five-eighth ahead of Quade Cooper, who has played just 120 minutes since returning from knee surgery.
A sixth player could potentially make a Test debut, with Brumbies openside flanker Michael Hooper named on the bench.
Wallabies: Luke Morahan, Joe Tomane, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham, David Pocock (capt), Dave Dennis, Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Dan Palmer, Stephen Moore, James Slipper. Res: Saia Faingaa, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, Michael Hooper, Nick Phipps, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper.
See tomorrow’s Mercury for more coverage of the Wallabies Test in Newcastle.