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Genia dropped for Pumas clash

Australia scrum-half Will Genia has been dumped to the bench for Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Perth, with Brumbies rookie Nic White to make his full debut in the number nine jumper.

Coach Ewen McKenzie's shock decision to drop Genia, widely considered the best half-back in world rugby, is one of two changes to the starting side following Saturday's 38-12 loss to South Africa.

Ben Alexander returns at starting tighthead, forcing Sekope Kepu to the reserves, while lock Sitaleki Timani and centre Tevita Kuridrani replace Liam Gill and Jesse Mogg on the bench.

Brumbies flanker Ben Mowen will skipper the side in the absence of Genia and injured skipper James Horwill (hamstring), becoming the 80th man to captain the Wallabies.

McKenzie admits it was tough to bench Genia but says White deserves his opportunity after a stand-out campaign for the Brumbies.

"The fact that Will has captained his country shows what high regard we hold him in and, while he is naturally disappointed, I also know how competitive he is and I've got no doubts he will train himself to a standstill to bounce back as a better player," McKenzie said of the 47-Test veteran.

"We've spoken about what areas we believe he can continue to improve and evolve his game and he was receptive to going back and addressing those things.

"In the end, it wasn't an easy decision because he is undoubtedly a world-class player.

"However, we also feel Nic has earned an opportunity to start and will add his own uniqueness and point of difference to how we want to play this game."

White, 22, made his debut against New Zealand in Sydney last month and has come off the bench in each of the Wallabies' three Rugby Championship losses this campaign.

Australia enter Saturday's game against the Pumas on the bottom of the Rugby Championship ladder, having failed to earn a single point in their first three matches.

A defiant McKenzie remains committed to playing "smart" and "attractive" rugby despite three straight defeats to start his Test coaching career.

"We made it clear before our first game against New Zealand that this group had very strong ideas around how they wanted to approach and play each game," he said.

"Australian Rugby is renowned for smart, attractive and running rugby and there is a continued determination from the coaching staff and players to play with ambition and flair.

"We aren't moving away from this philosophy.

"Within this framework though we've worked hard during the week to provide the team with further clarity on certain areas to ensure we are making smarter decisions in different parts of the field."

Australia team: Israel Folau; James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali'ifano, Nick Cummins; Quade Cooper, Nic White; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen (capt).

Replacements: Saia Fainga'a, Scott Sio, Sekope Kepu, Sitaleki Timani, Ben McCalman, Will Genia, Matt Toomua, Tevita Kuridrani.


From Belfast Telegraph