Holmes, Hardy and Sare start against Japan

Josh Holmes, Gareth Hardy and Haig Sare have been elevated to the Australia ‘A’ starting line up for the first time in 2006 ahead of their International Rugby Board (IRB) Pacific Nations Cup clash with Japan in Townsville on Saturday.

Selectors have made a total of seven changes to the side that accounted for Samoa last week, with the bulk of those coming in the forwards.

Holmes replaces Sam Cordingley, who this week joined the Wallabies in camp in Perth, while Sare fills the gap left following injury to Lachie Turner.

The match will see Sare make his debut at this level.

Hardy will start for the first time at ‘A’ level, while Holmes resumes the starting scrum-half role he last filled against Fiji in July 2006.

Troy Takiari, Will Caldwell, Dean Mumm and David Pocock are the other new faces in the starting side to that which downed Samoa 27-15 in Coffs Harbour.

New inclusions on the bench are Salesi Ma’afu at prop and scrum-half Josh Valentine, who joined the squad in Townsville late on Monday after being called up to replace Cordingley.

Coach Laurie Fisher says the elevation of Holmes, Hardy and Sare is due recognition for the hard work they have put in during the Australia ‘A’ campaign thus far.

“All three have been putting the work in at training and Josh and Gareth have made important contributions off the bench in the first two games,” Fisher said.

“Haig hasn’t had a lot of game time in Super 14 this year but he’s got the speed and skill to be a success at this level.

“The A program is about giving guys an opportunity at this level and we’re confident the mix of experience and new players will serves us well against Japan.”

Australia ‘A’: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Clinton Schifcofske, 13 Junior Pelesasa, 12 Ryan Cross, 11 Haig Sare, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Josh Holmes, 8 Jone Tawake, 7 David Pocock, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Will Caldwell, 4 Alister Campbell (captain), 3 Troy Takiari, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Gareth Hardy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Hardman, 17 Salesi Ma’afu, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Gene Fairbanks, 22 Kurtley Beale

Date: Saturday, 9 June
Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville
Kick-off: 18.00 (08.00 GMT)
Referee: James Bolabiu (Fiji)
Touch judges: Keith Brown (New Zealand), Geoff Acton (Australia)
Assessor: Bob Francis (New Zealand)


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