Cheika shuffles Australia line-out for England Test

MELBOURNE • Australia coach Michael Cheika has dropped loosehead prop Scott Sio and overhauled his front row for the second rugby Test against England in Melbourne on Saturday.

Sio, hailed as the saviour of the Australian scrum after his performances at last year's World Cup, was comprehensively overpowered by England's Dan Cole and ended up in the sin bin in last weekend's 39-28 first Test defeat.

James Slipper is promoted off the bench to replace Sio, while Sekope Kepu also steps up from the replacements to start in place of Greg Holmes at tighthead.

Otherwise, Cheika has kept faith with the tactics if not the personnel of the team that started in Brisbane.

Sean McMahon will start at No. 8 in place of David Pocock, who fractured an eye socket in the opening match.

The dynamic McMahon is a specialist openside flanker and will operate alongside No. 7 Michael Hooper in the back row.

"Based on last weekend's performance, we decided that we wanted some new combinations for Saturday's game," Cheika said in a news release. "Sean never takes a backwards step while James and Sekope add plenty of Test match experience."

There are no changes to the backline, with winger Rob Horne having recovered from a knock to the head and Cheika sticking with his inexperienced, 200-kg plus centre partnership of Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi.

England, on the other hand, will restore George Ford at fly-half.

Manager Eddie Jones will reunite the Grand Slam-winning 10-12 axis of Ford and Owen Farrell as the tourists target the victory that will complete a historic series win in the Southern Hemisphere.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Cheika shuffles Australia line-out for England Test'. Print Edition | Subscribe