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Sheehan thrust into starting side as Deans rings the changes

Impact … Brett Sheehan earns a seventh cap.

Impact … Brett Sheehan earns a seventh cap. Photo: Getty Images

FLORENCE: Veteran Force halfback Brett Sheehan will make his maiden start for the Wallabies as Australia looks to continue its unbeaten run against Italy on Saturday.

Six years after coming off the bench in his first Test, Sheehan, 33, will earn his seventh cap in the starting line-up as one of four changes made to the Wallabies side that beat England at Twickenham last week.

Drew Mitchell joins Nick Cummins on the wing, replacing Digby Ioane, Stephen Moore will start at hooker in place of Tatafu Polota-Nau and Scott Higginbotham returns from his two-Test suspension to start at blindside breakaway, with Dave Dennis moving to the bench.

Australia have won the 14 previous Test matches against the Azzurri, including last year's World Cup pool match and the 2010 spring tour Test. Coach Robbie Deans has sought to freshen the side's legs at the halfway point of its four-Test European tour but insisted it was not a comment on the threat posed by Italy.

''It's quite the reverse,'' he said. ''If you look at the men who are coming in, they are all seasoned Test players. Drew [Mitchell] is one of the most experienced Test wingers in Australian history, Stephen Moore is our most-capped hooker, while Scott [Higginbotham] was the Test incumbent in his position until suspension.

''No one should doubt the impact that Brett Sheehan has made since he has joined the squad either. Nick [Phipps] did well last weekend against England and he is still in a position to contribute this weekend but Brett has worked hard and has earned this opportunity.''

The side remains unchanged otherwise. Deans and the selection staff have backed Force winger Cummins to continue the form that scored him Australia's only try of the tour to date, against England last week, while the new back-line combination used in the match has been selected again.

Ben Tapuai and Adam Ashley-Cooper will start in the midfield outside five-eighth Kurtley Beale and Berrick Barnes returns at fullback.

The back row will again feature open-side Michael Hooper and No.8 Wycliff Palu alongside Higginbotham, who has been in Europe less than a week after training with new province the Rebels during his suspension.

Sitaleki Timani will start alongside captain Nathan Sharpe in the second row, with Dave Dennis supporting the back and second rows from the bench. Ben Alexander will start again in the front row beside Moore and Benn Robinson. James Slipper and Sekope Kepu are on the bench, along with Polota-Nau and breakaway Liam Gill. Mike Harris, Ioane and Phipps are also on the bench.

Meanwhile, Rob Simmons is appealing his eight-week suspension for a lifting tackle on French forward Yannick Nyanga. The Wallabies are seeking to overturn the charge or contest its classification as a top-end offence. The appeal must be heard within the week.

Australia: Berrick Barnes, Nick Cummins, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ben Tapuai, Drew Mitchell, Kurtley Beale, Brett Sheehan, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe (c), Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Dave Dennis, Liam Gill, Nick Phipps, Mike Harris, Digby Ioane.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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