QUADE COOPER WILL return for the Wallabies for Saturday’s second Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks.
But Kurtley Beale has paid the price for last week’s loss, dumped from at least the starting XV.
Will Genia has been elevated to the captaincy, with Michael Hooper promoted to the run-on side.
In another late change, Stephen Moore will become Australia’s most-capped Test hooker with Jeremy Paul after replacing Tatafu Polota Nau, who ruled himself out in Thursday’s training. It will be Moore’s 72nd cap.
Cooper has not played for Australia since seriously injuring his knee in the third-place playoff against Wales at last year’s World Cup, coincidentally at Eden Park where Saturday’s Test will be played.
With Cooper returning at No.10 to link up with Genia, Berrick Barnes has been shifted to inside centre and Beale has been left out, while Adam Ashley-Cooper moves from wing to full-back, allowing Drew Mitchell to play on that right wing.
The Test will mark Mitchell’s first run-on match since the World Cup after he was in the 22 last week in Sydney but not used.
Selectors have opted against finalising their bench because of an undisclosed injury concern, meaning 25 players will travel to Auckland before a final 22 is named later on Thursday, so Beale could yet win a reprieve.
With flanker David Pocock sidelined after undergoing knee surgery earlier this week, selectors have turned to Genia to lead the team, having done so once previously against the United States at the World Cup.
Pocock’s absence, which comes after incumbent skipper James Horwill was injured before the June Tests against Scotland and Wales, means Brumbies flanker Hooper gets his first opportunity to start, at openside flanker while Ben Alexander replaces Sekope Kepu at tighthead.
While Hooper will be playing his fourth match, reserve hooker Stephen Moore is poised to draw level with Jeremy Paul as the most-capped Wallabies hooker in history, currently sitting on 71 caps.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of prop Wyatt Crockett is the only change to the All Blacks side. Crockett replaces Tony Woodcock who suffered a rib injury in Sydney.
Coach Steve Hansen said while the All Blacks had been happy with their first-up win it was expected they would continue to seek improvement in their performance, something they were also expected of Australia.
“Playing in front of our home crowd is always exciting for the All Blacks,” he said.
“The fans are important to us and getting the opportunity to play a home Test is one we cherish.”
Wallabies: 15. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Drew Mitchell, 13. Rob Horne, 12. Berrick Barnes, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Dave Dennis, 5. Nathan Sharpe, 4. Sitaleki Timani, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Tatafu Polota Nau, 1. Benn Robinson.
All Blacks: 1.Wyatt Crockett, 2.Keven Mealamu, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Luke Romano, 5.Sam Whitelock, 6.Liam Messam, 7.Richie McCaw (captain), 8.Kieran Read, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Daniel Carter, 11.Hosea Gear, 12.Sonny Bill Williams, 13.Ma’a Nonu, 14.Cory Jane, 15.Israel Dagg.
Reserves: 16.Andrew Hore, 17.Ben Franks, 18.Brodie Retallick, 19.Victor Vito, 20.Piri Weepu, 21.Aaron Cruden, 22.Ben Smith.