Stephen Moore will play his 120th Test this weekend. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Boyers

BRISBANE, Australia – Stephen Moore will return to captain the Wallabies for this weekend's Test with Italy in Brisbane as coach Michael Cheika axed six players on Thursday.

Moore will start as the first-choice hooker in place of Tatafu Polota-Nau in a team shake-up following last Saturday's much-criticised 24-19 loss to Scotland in Sydney.

Cheika made three other changes in the forward pack, with ACT Brumbies pair, prop Scott Sio and lock Rory Arnold, joined by Lopeti Timani at No 8 in place of rookie prop Tom Robertson, lock Sam Carter and No 8 Scott Higginbotham.

"I think there was some players who deserved some opportunities to be seen in the Test match arena and there's been some tight calls," Cheika said.

"That's the signal that teams are looking for players who want to make those spots their own."

Moore will become the 10th most-capped international player, surpassing Italian Martin Castrogiovanni and England's Jason Leonard in his 120th Test.

The hooker is 19 Tests away from Australia's Test record held by George Gregan's 139 Tests.

Melbourne Rebels flyer Sefa Naivalu gets the chance to add to his six Tests, while Rob Horne returns for Tevita Kuridrani to partner Karmichael Hunt in the centres.

Horne's last Australia appearance was 12 months ago in the final Test against England in Sydney.

The Wallabies are taking no risks with winger Henry Speight's hamstring strain that kept him out of the Scotland game.

"We made a decision on Henry early in the week, he still had a bit of pain, there was some risk for him," Cheika said.

"I think considering our position with the competition in the wing spot, that wasn't worth risking for Henry this week and we want to make sure that he's right for the rest of the season as well."

The Wallabies are yet to lose to Italy in their 16 encounters, winning 23-20 in their last clash in Brisbane in 1994.

The Italy Test is the Wallabies' last before August's Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand, with players heading back to their Super Rugby clubs next week for the final two home and away rounds of the competition.

Cheika will name his replacements bench on Friday.

Australia team (15-1): Israel Folau; Dane Haylett-Petty, Rob Horne, Karmichael Hunt, Sefa Naivalu; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Lopeti Timani, Michael Hooper, Ned Hanigan; Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold; Allan Alaalatoa, Stephen Moore (capt), Scott Sio. Replacements to be announced.

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