Quiney, the 30-year-old Victorian, is a late bloomer who graduated to first class cricket only five years ago. He was called into the Australia squad on Sunday as cover when Watson suffered his injury in a match between New South Wales and Queensland, and was brought into the starting team when Watson was officially ruled out on Monday.
Quiney will become Australia's 429th test cricketer when he debuts at Brisbane's Gabba ground.
Watson's injury is similar to that which saw him miss all of Australia's home tests last summer, stripping the test side of both a strong opener and handy change bowler. He hopes to be fit for the second and third tests in Adelaide and Perth.
Quiney made scores of 85 and 11 not out for Australia A in its three day match against the Proteas which ended in Sydney on Sunday.
In the second innings, he faced the full fury of South Africa's test spearhead Dale Steyn who bowled five overs in what was described by teammate Jacques Rudolph as his fastest spell in seven years.
Chairman of selectors John Inverarity said Quiney's performance against the touring bowlers earned him a callup ahead of former test opener Phil Hughes and uncapped batsman Alex Doolan, who made an unbeaten 161 for Australia A.
“Rob Quiney has impressed the selectors with his performances in all formats in recent years,” Inverarity said.
“He is in good shape at the moment and he is ready to grasp his opportunity should he get the nod for Friday. Rob is a mature player with an equable temperament who has been on the verge of higher honors for some time.”
Quiney has made 3092 runs at an average of 37.7 in first class matches and was Australia's State Player of the Year last season.
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