New-look Wallabies ready for France challenge
France won the last meeting between these two, smashing Robbie Deans’ Wallabies 33-6 at Stade de France in November 2012.
There are only four Wallaby survivors from that starting line-up – Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu and Wycliff Palu.
McKenzie has made six changes to the starting side that beat Wales 30-26 in their last outing in December.
Scrumhalf Will Genia is the highest-profile casualty after he was dropped from the 23 all together.
Nic White is the number nine with Nick Phipps the back-up scrumhalf.
Incumbent captain Ben Mowen, number eight Scott Higginbotham and utility Christian Lealiifano have also been left out of the squad, while former skipper James Horwill and 2011 John Eales Medallist will start from the bench.
Bernard Foley replaces the injured Quade Cooper (shoulder) at flyhalf while Brumbies lock Sam Carter will make his Test debut ahead of Horwill.
“We function in a performance environment and so it’s important to reward those who have consistently played at a high level over the course of the (Super Rugby) season,” McKenzie said.
“This year we’re in a particularly strong position whereby so many of our players have been performing well for their provinces.
“The margins are so small but it unfortunately does mean that quality players are going to miss out, which is the case for our opening Test against France.”
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made eight changes to the starting XV that lost to Ireland on the final day of the Six Nations.
Frederic Michalak will start at flyhalf, while tour captain Thierry Dusautoir has not been selected leaving Nicolas Mas to skipper the side.
None of the Toulon and Castres players who took part in last weekend’s Top 14 Final have been included.
France are unpredictable but entertaining, and how the Wallabies’ new combinations work remains to be seen.
Neither side have played a Test for several months so both will be rusty.
France have only won four times in Australia, with their last win Down Under coming in 1990 at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The opening Test of the season is always hard to pick but the Wallabies should be too good in front of their home fans.
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