Wallabies coach calls up rookies for Tri-Nations opener
Dave Rennie names four uncapped players in starting 15 against New Zealand
Melbourne — Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said on Thursday a youth-led insurrection could rise up to topple the All Blacks in the Tri-Nations opener on Saturday after naming four uncapped players in his match day squad.
Brumbies backs Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone will make their Test debuts in the starting 15 at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, with Reds pair Fraser McReight and Tate McDermott also a chance to debut off the bench.
Flyhalf Lolesio, 20, and inside centre Simone are injury-enforced changes with the experienced duo of James O’Connor and Matt Toomua ruled out for Saturday’s match, which doubles as the third Bledisloe Cup Test.
The Wallabies backline will be one of the rawest seen in years but Rennie said the rookies could help Australia hit back after the 27-7 reverse in Auckland two weeks ago.
“We’ve certainly got an eye for the future but it’s also about winning on Saturday,” Rennie told reporters. “It’s exciting for us. We’ve got some young men who have been tested and are learning lots. But there’s no reason why if we go out and play at our best on the weekend, we can’t get a win.”
The All Blacks, who have retained the Bledisloe Cup since 2003, hold a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series after the victory at Eden Park and a 16-16 draw in the first Test in Wellington.
Simone, 25, is joined by 20-year-old live wire Jordan Petaia, who replaces centre Hunter Paisami at midfield after coming off the bench for an eye-catching cameo in Auckland. The more experienced Dane Haylett-Petty has been recalled at fullback in place of Tom Banks, who drops out of the match day squad for the first Test on Australian soil in 2020.
Prop Allan Alaalatoa is the only change to the pack, coming in at the expense of Taniela Tupou, who has also dropped to the reserves. Rennie said O’Connor had hurt his knee about half an hour into the Eden Park defeat and carried the injury through the game.
However, he expected the flyhalf to be fit for the final Bledisloe clash in Brisbane on November 7.
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