Slipper to lead Australia in rugby test vs United States

SYDNEY (AP) James Slipper will fill in as captain for Stephen Moore in Australia’s rugby union test against the United States in Chicago this weekend, becoming the first prop to lead the Wallabies in almost four decades.

Slipper, who has played 67 test matches, was elevated to the captaincy when Moore, regular vice-captains Michael Hooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper and seasoned veterans David Pocock and Will Genia were rested from the starting lineup for Saturday’s match at Soldier Field.

Two-time World Cup winner Australia won the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship title this season with victories over South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina, but enters the one-off test against the U.S. Eagles following a heavy loss to the All Blacks in Auckland, New Zealand.

Australia coach Michael Cheika is using the match against the Americans as a warm-up for the World Cup, which starts in England in Sept. 18, and is experimenting with his lineup.

Backrower Ben McCalman and inside center Matt Giteau were selected as vice-captains this week.

Both players are returning to the starting XV, while forwards Tatafu Polota-Nau, Kane Douglas and Sean McMahon and backs Joe Tomane and Kurtley Beale were picked for their first starting appearances of the season.

Uncapped prop Toby Smith and winger Taqele Naiyaravoro were included on the reserves bench.

The Australian Rugby Union said Slipper will be the 83rd Wallabies captain, and the first prop to lead the national team since 1966-67.

”This is a really important match for us as a group, especially with a couple of boys making their debuts,” Slipper said. ”We want to put in a performance that shows how hard we’ve been working over the past few months before we head over to” the World Cup.

Australia squad: Kurtley Beale, Joe Tomane, Henry Speight, Matt Giteau, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Wycliff Palu, Sean McMahon, Ben McCalman, Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas, Greg Holmes, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper (captain). Reserves: James Hanson, Scott Sio, Toby Smith, Dean Mumm, Sam Carter, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Taqele Naiyaravoro.