VIDEO: Folau at 13 as Cheika shuffles his deck for Bledisloe 3

The Wallabies have announced their initial 24-man squad for this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks in Japan, and coach Michael Cheika has made some intriguing tweaks to his backline with Israel Folau to start his first test in the no.13 jersey.

The ankle injury sustained by Reece Hodge has ruled the versatile Melbourne Rebel out for the rest of the international season, leaving Cheika with a selection conundrum around arguably the most pivotal defensive position on the field. Folau gets the nod to resume a role he performed with mixed success for the Waratahs in 2017, while Sefa Naivalu comes in on the wing for his first test in over a year.

Rob Simmons replaces the injured Adam Coleman in the second row for his 91st test, while Sekope Kepu will become the first prop to reach 100 Wallaby caps if he comes off the bench in Yokohama. He is joined on the pine by the returning Jack Dempsey, whose last test was a Man of the Match performance in the third Bledisloe Cup clash this time last year, and by bustling centre Samu Kerevi.

Michael Cheika spoke to media yesterday about the injury to Adam Coleman; the need for Rob Simmons to step up in a gold jersey; why Sefa Naivalu is back into the starting line-up; and Israel Folau’s challenge against Sonny Bill Williams in the centres

Video courtesy of Rugby AU

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FoxSports’ live coverage of the test will kick off at 5pm AEDT on Saturday, immediately following the live coverage of the 2018 NRC Grand Final between Fijian Drua and Queensland Country (coverage begins at 2.30pm AEDT).

The third and final Bledisloe Cup clash of 2018 will also be screened LIVE and free in HD on TEN and WIN Network and streaming on tenplay.com.au.

Qantas Wallabies team to play New Zealand at Nissan Stadium, Yokohama on Saturday 27 October, 3.00pm local (5pm AEDT)

1. Scott Sio (51 Tests)
2. Folau Faingaa (5 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (29 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (13 Tests)
5. Rob Simmons (90 Tests)
6. Ned Hanigan (17 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (87 Tests)
8. David Pocock (74 Tests)
9. Will Genia (96 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (64 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (17 Tests)
12. Kurtley Beale (80 Tests)
13. Israel Folau (69 Tests)
14. Sefa Naivalu (7 Tests)
15. Dane Haylett-Petty (27 Tests)

Replacements
16. Tolu Latu (9 Tests)
17. Sekope Kepu (99 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (8 Tests)
19. Rory Arnold (18 Tests)
20. Jack Dempsey (6 Tests)
21. Nick Phipps (69 Tests)
22. Samu Kerevi (21 Tests)
23. Tom Banks (3 Tests)

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