Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby: Toomua gets start spot ahead of Cooper

Matt Toomua. Photo / Getty Images
Matt Toomua. Photo / Getty Images

First-five Matt Toomua will make his debut for Australia while Quade Cooper was named on the bench for tomorrow's opening Rugby Championship match.

Toomua, the only new test cap starting for Australia, was given the starting No10 assignment last night by coach Ewen McKenzie.

Israel Folau will start his fourth test match on the wing, with James O'Connor and Jesse Mogg among 10 Brumbies players in the team. Christian Lealiifano and Adam Ashley-Cooper are in the centres.

Eyebrows have been raised about how long it has taken McKenzie to choose his side, with All Black coach Steve Hansen asked if the secrecy had been mentally challenging.

"I actually think the better question would be: is he mentally challenged that he doesn't know which five-eighth he wants to pick?" Hansen said. "He's in a difficult situation, isn't he? Because I'm imagining when Robbie Deans wasn't picking Quade Cooper he was probably saying, 'I'll pick you Quade, I'll pick you', and our information [was] telling us he's going to pick the other bloke [Toomua].

"Now, there's two reasons why he wouldn't want to tell them. One: he's not sure himself. Or, two: he doesn't think they can cope with the pressure of being out there in public too early."

Hansen then took the opportunity to remind McKenzie of the pressure he would be under this weekend.

" ... there is pressure because there's a question mark and Australia haven't had a great run against us for a wee while now and that's all been attributed to Robbie Deans, which is, I think, a bit unfair.

"Everyone seems to think that Ewen's going to make the difference so there's got to be pressure on him because what happens if it doesn't work?"

- NZ Herald

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