Rob Simmons has earned a shock recall to the Wallabies team.
Rob Simmons has earned a shock recall to the Wallabies team. WILL OLIVER

Cheika strengthens defence for second Bledisloe clash

SAMU Kerevi has been dropped and Rob Simmons recalled from the wilderness to start in the Wallabies team against the All Blacks in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Dunedin.

Coach Michael Cheika made three changes to the side beaten 54-34 in Sydney and the defensive strength of the midfield was a clear issue, with Tevita Kuridrani rushed back into the No.13 jersey.

Kuridrani's presence in the second half saw the Wallabies' defence improve dramatically and the experienced Brumbies centre will be partnered with Kurtley Beale in the centres.

Kerevi, who missed 50% of his tackles last week, was dropped out of the side altogether.

Dane Haylett-Petty returns from a biceps injury that ruled him out of the opening clash, with Curtis Rona moved back to the bench.

The shock selection from Cheika comes in the forward pack, where Rory Arnold has been replaced by Simmons.

Simmons had such a mixed season with the Queensland Reds he struggled to make the starting second row and was informed he wouldn't be re-signed next season.

But the 72-Test veteran, who is set to sign with the Waratahs next year, has won his way back into the Wallabies starting side over Arnold.


Australia's Dane Haylett-Petty attacks during the International rugby match between Australia and Italy in Brisbane, Australia, Saturday, June 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
Australia's Dane Haylett-Petty during the Test against Italy in Brisbane in June. Tertius Pickard

Arnold's performances alongside Adam Coleman in the second row had been strong, too, so Cheika has thrown enormous faith in Simmons.

In other news, Stephen Moore retained the No.2 over Tatafu Polota-Nau, and Jack Dempsey was bracketed with Lopeti Timani on the bench.   

Wallabies team

1. Scott Sio (33 Tests)

2. Stephen Moore (121 Tests)

3. Allan Alaalatoa (13 Tests)

4. Rob Simmons (72 Tests)

5. Adam Coleman (13 Tests)

6. Ned Hanigan (4 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (69 Tests)

8. Sean McMahon (16 Tests)

9. Will Genia (79 Tests)

10. Bernard Foley (46 Tests)

11. Henry Speight (13 Tests)

12. Kurtley Beale (61 Tests)

13. Tevita Kuridrani (48 Tests)

14. Dane Haylett-Petty (17 Tests)

15. Israel Folau (56 Tests)


16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (72 Tests)

17. Tom Robertson (10 Tests)

18. Sekope Kepu (81 Tests)

19. Rory Arnold (13 Tests)

20. Lopeti Timani (8 Tests)/Jack Dempsey (1 Test)

21. Nick Phipps (53 Tests)

22. Reece Hodge (14 Tests)

23. Curtis Rona (1 Test)