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Wallabies irked by 'B team' suggestion

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016 Joe Barton

A seething Michael Cheika has given his reshuffled Wallabies the ammunition to come out firing against France, after taking exception to his side being labelled a "B team".

Chieka's team announced on Thursday, which featured 11 new faces and a positional change to new skipper David Pocock from last week's last-gasp win over Scotland, raised plenty of eyebrows around Paris.

Conscious of the heavy workload of some players, Cheika opted to rest the likes of captain Stephen Moore and vice-captain Michael Hooper, as well as stars Israel Folau and Bernard Foley.

The French press accused Australia of treating the match without the respect it deserved, with the Wallabies choosing to rest weary stars ahead of the crucial grand slam showdowns with Ireland and England.

When it came to motivating his side, Cheika was leaving nothing to chance.

He seized upon the 'B team' gibes expressed in the French media and immediately took them to his team.

"I explained to them that the response to our selection was that we were playing with an equipe bis (a back-up team)," Cheika said on Friday.

When asked what the team's reaction to the slight had been, Cheika said: "We'll see tomorrow night (reaction).

"They didn't say anything, I told them what it meant, I left it with them."

Pocock, who returns to the captaincy for the first time since August 2012, said it was a special fixture and one which no player selected would take lightly.

"Obviously a bunch of new players get an opportunity this week and that's really exciting because we've got depth in our squad," Pocock said.

"Something we've been working hard on is getting everyone up to speed and having a lot of competition at training.

"To see guys get opportunities as a player is exciting.

"To play here, it's one of the great grounds to play at. It's incredibly loud.

"A unique atmosphere. It's definitely a special night."

Cheika joked during the week that the French might not have seen much of Kyle Godwin, who will become the Wallabies' 13th debutant in 2016, or fullback Luke Morahan, who joins from outside the squad to play his third Test.

But Pocock played down the advantage that might be gained from having some surprise selections - pointing to France's heavy 52-8 win over Samoa last week as evidence that the home side are a dangerous outfit.

"I'm not sure if it's an advantage. They looked very good against Samoa," Pocock said.

"I thought in attack and defence they were exceptional. We're expecting a very tough game."

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