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Pocock starts alongside Hooper in Wallabies' Rugby World Cup opener

Both Hooper and Pocock are renowned for their expert work in slowing down and turning over opposition ball at the breakdown, which could prove important against a Fiji side that is at its best playing a quick-moving running game.

FILE: Australia loose forward David Pocock during a training session. Picture: AFP

SAPPORO - David Pocock will start alongside Australia captain Michael Hooper in the Wallabies' back-row for their Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji in Sapporo on Saturday.

The starting XV announced by coach Michael Cheika on Thursday is almost the same that inflicted a record 47-26 Bledisloe Cup defeat on world champions New Zealand in Perth last month, with the inclusion of flanker Pocock - who has been struggling with a calf injury and will retire after the World Cup - the only change.

"I think with the first game of a World Cup, we went for a little bit more experience to be honest, just for this first one" said Cheika, who took Australia all the way to a 2015 final where they lost to New Zealand.

"They've done this before, the two boys playing together... We've worked on the possibility of this kind of combination for the last couple of weeks and they've been working well together," Cheika told reporters after unveiling his side at the squad's Sapporo hotel on Thursday.

"His (Pocock's) selection is for this game and after that we'll work out a team for the next game."

Both Hooper and Pocock are renowned for their expert work in slowing down and turning over opposition ball at the breakdown, which could prove important against a Fiji side that is at its best playing a quick-moving running game.

Cheika, however, insisted that the inclusion of the two loose forwards was not merely a defensive move on his part.

"I don't know if it's to slow them (Fiji) down," he said. "If they can get the ball off the ground, it's a bonus.

"Rest assured, these players aren't selected just for their play on the ground.

"There's a lot of other facets to the game where they can contribute to the team, both in attack and defence."

Meanwhile, lock Rory Arnold has overcome a hand injury that ruled him out of the second Bledisloe Cup clash in Auckland, which New Zealand won 36-0, while Nic White and Christian Lealiifano return at half-backs after sitting out the Test against Samoa earlier this month.

"I think Nic and Christian, there's been strong competition, between Nic and Christian, Bernard (Foley) and Matt To'omua also as well," said Cheika.

"But I think in the Rugby Championship they showed enough to us about their composure, ability to adapt on the run, which I think will be big in this game and their ability to create play in both attack and defence. And they deserve the opportunity to play in game one.

"It's tight competition. In a lot of positions for us it's tight, which is good. It makes it tough when you are picking a team but it's good for us because it will only help to push the standard of play up."

Australia also faced Fiji in their 2015 World Cup opener, winning 28-13 in Cardiff.

The Wallabies play Wales in their second Pool D clash in Tokyo on September 29 before games against Uruguay and Georgia in Oita and Shizuoka on October 5 and October 11, respectively.

FIJI UNLEASH OVERSEAS STARS AGAINST AUSTRALIA

Fiji coach John McKee named 12 players that ply their trade in foreign leagues to face Australia on Saturday, with many tipping the Flying Fijians as possible Rugby World Cup giant-killers.

New Zealander McKee also selected three players - lock Leone Nakarawa, number eight Viliame Mata and winger Josua Tuisova - who played in the sevens teams that won gold at the Rio Olympics.

The team is led by flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu, who plays for Pau in France's Top 14, with fly-half Ben Volavola also based in France for Paris club Racing 92.

"The team is selected 100 percent on merit and the local-based players have earned their places in the team alongside our renowned overseas-based players," McKee told reporters.

"We know Australia are a very good team and present a big challenge for us but, because of our preparation, I know that our team is mentally and physically ready for that challenge," he added.

McKee has urged his players to improve their discipline at the World Cup, with his team never short of attacking flair.

Fiji, currently ranked 9th in the World Rugby rankings, come into the tournament having shown they can take on the established teams with a shock 21-14 victory over France last year.

They also defeated the Maori All Blacks for the first time in 62 years as part of a drawn two-match series.

However, they have a mountain to climb to make the quarter-finals for the third time in their history, facing Australia first up in a pool that also includes Wales, Georgia and Uruguay.

TEAMS

Australia (15-1)

Kurtley Beale; Reece Hodge, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete; Christian Lealiifano, Nic White; Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (capt), David Pocock; Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda; Allan Alaalatoa; Tolu Latu, Scott Sio

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Will Genia, Matt To'omua, Dane Haylett-Petty

Fiji (15-1)

Kini Murimurivalu; Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu, Levani Botia, Semi Radradra; Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani; Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (cap); Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati; Peni Ravai, Samuel Matavesi, Campese Ma'afu

Replacements: Tuvere Vugakoto, Eroni Mawi, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Ratuva, Mosese Voka, Nikola Matawalu, Alivereti Veitokani, Vereniki Goneva

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