Wallabies team to play France
The squad to take on France in the first Test at Suncorp Stadium on June 7. Photo: Getty Images
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He's the "piano pusher" with mongrel attitude born from his dad David's Wallabies footsteps, but Sam Carter is unfazed by his Test debut challenge and the fact he usurped a former Australian captain from the starting line-up.
ACT Brumbies lock Carter will play his first Test in the Wallabies series opener against France in Brisbane on Saturday night after coach Ewen McKenzie picked the 24-year-old ahead of former skipper James Horwill.
Carter's dad David played six Tests for the Wallabies and made his debut in Brisbane 26 years ago. The lineage has earned Carter the nickname "SOD" or "Son of David" in Canberra. It is an appropriate likeness as Carter channels his dad's mongrel for the first game of his international career.
David played in an era of eye gouging and ruthless international matches and the NSW farmer's tough as nails attitude has been passed down a generation.
The Carters are the first father-son duo to play for the Wallabies since 1993.
Carter has a reputation for "doing the shitters" for the Brumbies and cut his teeth on the family farm in northern NSW.
"There are piano players and there are piano players," David Carter said. "If you're a piano pusher, you've got to push it and that's basically what Sam is.
"A lot of people say we run the same, but he reads the game better than I did. I used to be a head down, bum up player ... I've got no doubt the 'SOD' nickname is sticking. I know the [Brumbies] guys give it to him about his burger arse, he's certainly got a big one, there's no doubt about that.
"It's almost 30 years ago since I was in Brisbane making my debut, so there will be a lump in the throat when the national anthem is played, you always want your kids to follow in your footsteps."
McKenzie dumped Horwill to the bench and axed scrumhalf Will Genia from the squad for the start of the Test series.
Carter leads a list of six Brumbies in the side, which will be captained by ACT rake Stephen Moore.
Nic White beat Genia and Nick Phipps in the battle for the No.9 jersey, while Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani form the centres combination.
Carter's housemate, Scott Fardy, will start at blindside flanker, while versatile Pat McCabe will be on the bench after breaking his neck in his past two appearances for the Wallabies.
Carter's rise is the most unexpected.
It was expected McKenzie would keep Horwill in the first XV to start the series, but the coach has opted to give Carter a chance to prove his worth before NSW giant Will Skelton and Melbourne's Luke Jones.
"I was told just before the team announcement," Carter jnr said. "I was focusing on lineouts with [set-piece coach Andrew Blades] and as soon as I was told, I completely forgot what I was talking about.
"Kev [Horwill] is a class act. Anything I can learn off him is a bonus and there were no hard feelings."
Carter's parents will drive seven hours to Brisbane to watch the Wallabies start their three-Test series against France.
"It's been on for young and old, I'm pretty pleased to be honest," David said. "It's going to hit home on Saturday. He started to show potential in secondary school, he's always been tall but he wasn't any more dominant than anyone else."
Carter has already played 44 Super Rugby games and McKenzie said: "He's a very natural footballer.
"Anyone that saw him play on the weekend would appreciate all the subtle elements in attack and defence he can contribute.'"
The Wallabies last played France in 2012, losing 33-6 in Paris.
Wallabies: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Bernard Foley, Nic White; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (c), James Slipper. Res: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pek Cowan, Paddy Ryan, James Horwill, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Pat McCabe.