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Wallabies face easier start in 2017

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016

The Wallabies face an easier start in 2017, with home Tests against Fiji, Scotland and Italy scheduled for June.

While it may not excite fans in quite the same way, it should at least make the lead in to the Rugby Championship more comfortable for coach Michael Cheika's team after they copped three straight home defeats by England in June this year.

Many fans will welcome a return to daytime Test rugby, with all three matches - in Melbourne (Fiji, AAMI Park, June 10), Sydney (Scotland, Allianz Stadium, June 17) and Brisbane (Italy, Suncorp Stadium, June 24) - scheduled for 3pm AEST starts.

"Fans have told us that they would like more opportunities to watch Test rugby in the afternoon, with clearly the biggest reason being that an afternoon timeslot makes it much easier to take the family along," ARU CEO Bill Pulver said.

Another factor could be that none of the visitors are among the frontline Test nations or top drawcards, with Scotland ranked eighth, Fiji 10th and Italy 13th.

However, Scotland, who the Wallabies face in Edinburgh, in a spring tour fixture on November 12, have caused Australia plenty of headaches in recent meetings.

They have split their last four Tests, with none of the final margins greater than six points.

Australia squeezed out a dramatic 35-34 World Cup quarter-final win over the Scots in London last year, with Bernard Foley kicking a match-winning penalty in the dying seconds.

Scotland prevailed in their last match against the Wallabies in Australia, in 2012, winning 9-6 in atrocious weather conditions in Newcastle.

It was a rare midweek Test and one in which current Wallabies vice-captain flanker Michael Hooper made his debut,

.Australia have played Fiji at home just twice since the turn of the century, with their only other two clashes this millennium coming in World Cup games, including a 28-13 pool match win for the Wallabies last year.

The Wallabies have won their last 13 Tests against Fiji, who did however defeat them in Sydney in 1952 and 1954.

Australia have won all 16 of their Tests against Italy, but haven't played them at home since 2009..

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