World cup favourites Australia have named what they consider their 1st choice and strongest team ahead of their opening quarter final game with Samoa on Friday.
With 1st choice prop forwards David Klemmer and Aaron Woods both having no case to answer following the pair being but on report in Australia’s last group game against Lebanon, both are now free to take their place this weekend as Australian head coach Mal Meninga, rings the changes making no less than 6 to the side that defeated Lebanon.
Billy Slater returns at Full back, meaning Valentine Holmes returns to the wing with Dane Gagai returning on the other flank. Will Chambers and Jodh Dugan will again partner up in the centres while Michael Morgan wins the battle for the number 6 jersey and will join the recalled Cooper Cronk in the halves.
Up front Captain Cameron Smith will be joined by Woods and Klemmer, while Boyd Cordner and Matt Gillet will make up the 2nd row with Josh McGuire taking the loose forward shirt.
On the bench Reagan Cambell-Gillard has forced himself into the 17 with a strong performance against the Lebanon and will join the versatile Wade Graham, prop forward Jordan McLean and Tyson Firzell on the bench.
Samoa, who are looking to go one bigger than Tonga’s shock win over New Zealand last week have recalled captain Frank Pritchard to the starting line up, along with the experienced Ben Roberts into the half backs, while Leeson Ah Mau moves into the starting line up at Loose forward after being named as a replacement in their 14-14 draw with Scotland last week.
Australia squad: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Josh Dugan, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. David Klemmer, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire.
Interchange: 14. Wade Graham, 15. Jordan McLean, 16. Reagan Cambell-Gillard, 17. Tyson Frizell. Reserves: 18. Felise Kaufusi, 19. Cameron Munster, 20. James Maloney, 21. Ben Hunt.
Samoa squad: 1. Young Tonumaipea, 2. Matthew Wright, 3. Ricky Leutele, 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. Timoteo Lafai, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Ben Roberts, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Jazz Tevaga, 10. Herman Ese’ese, 11. Joshua Papalii, 12. Frank Pritchard, 13. Leeson Ah Mau.
Interchange: 14. Fa’amanu Brown 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Suaia Matagi 17. Joseph Paulo
Reserves: 18. Zane Musgrove 19. Frank Winterstein 20. Pita Godinet 21. Ken Maumalo