Injuries and suspension have resulted in the Wallabies making seven changes to their matchday 23 for Saturday’s pivotal second Test against England. Into the starting line-up come the fit-again Taniela Tupou and backs Tom Wright and Hunter Paisami, with Jordan Petaia and Matt Philip both promoted from the replacements’ bench.
Tupou, aka the ‘Tongan Thor’, has recovered from a calf problem to fill the gap left by Allan Alaalatoa’s concussion in the first Test while Wright will replace Andrew Kellaway who has damaged a hamstring. Petaia takes over at full-back from Tom Banks who broke an arm in Australia’s 32-30 win in Perth and Paisami is in ahead of Len Ikitau in the midfield. Philip will stand in for Darcy Swain who was sent off last weekend and subsequently banned for two weeks.
With Quade Cooper also ruled out having tweaked a calf in the warm-up last Saturday, the youthful Noah Lolesio will continue as the starting fly-half. On the bench, lock Nick Frost is in line to make his Test debut while Izaia Perese is another addition. James O’Connor will be the back-up stand-off, having been called up just before kick-off last week.
It leaves skipper Michael Hooper as the only starting Wallaby player with more than 50 caps of Test experience, although the return of Tupou will boost Australia’s front-row dynamism. “It’s great to have Taniela back this week and he is extremely excited to pull on the gold jersey in his hometown,” said head coach Dave Rennie. “Equally, Jordy is looking forward to the opportunity at full-back and of course it will be a proud night for Nick and his family for his Test debut.
Australia have won their last 10 Tests in Brisbane, with England the last team to beat them at Suncorp Stadium back in 2016. Saturday’s match will be the 100th Test held in Brisbane where a win would secure the Wallabies a piece of history as the first team to win the Ella-Mobbs Cup. The home side will also wear a specially designed First Nations Jersey and will be singing the national anthem in the Yugambeh language.
Australia (v England, Saturday): Petaia; Wright, Paisami, Kerevi, Koroibete; Lolesio, White; Bell, Porecki, Tupou, Philip, Neville, Leota, Hooper (capt), Valetini.
Replacements: Fainga’a, Sio, Slipper, Frost, Samu, Gordon, O’Connor, Perese.