Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has named debutants Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone in the starting squad for Saturday’s must-win Test against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
20-year-old Lolesio and Simone will replace the injured James O’Connor and Matt To’omua in the side’s first match on home soil since the record-breaking win over the All Blacks in Perth in August last year.
Allan Alaalatoa is the only change to the pack, named for his first start in 2020 alongside Brandon Paenga-Amosa and James Slipper in the front row, the latter set to play his 99th Test for this country.
Matt Philip and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto will have another chance to build on their combination in the second row.
After an impressive return to the Test arena a fortnight ago, Ned Hanigan retains his spot at blindside flanker with skipper Michael Hooper on the opposite side of the scrum. The back row rounded out by the up-and-coming Harry Wilson, who is set to appear in the Wallabies jersey on home soil for the first time.
Lolesio will be partnered by his Super Rugby teammate Nic White in the halves with Simone to combine in the midfield with the dynamic Jordan Petaia, who will start for the first time in 2020 in what is also his first Test match in Australia.
The experienced Dane Haylett-Petty will wear the 15 jersey for the first time this year with Marika Koroibete and Filipo Daugunu adding speed on the wings.
Reds duo Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight in line for their first appearance for the Wallabies from the pine, with the side also set to wear the First Nations jersey for just the fourth time. Jordan Uelese, Scott Sio and Taniela Tupou will be called upon as the front row finishers with Rob Simmons set to surpass Stephen Larkham and become the equal 8th most capped Wallaby when he runs on for his 103rd Test.
The other end of the spectrum sees McReight and McDermott in line for their debuts with the aggressive Hunter Paisami and versatile Reece Hodge rounding out the match day squad.
Qantas Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “It’s really exciting to be able to name four more debutants in the squad this week.”
“Noah and Irae have played a lot of footy together and we have no doubt they’re ready to take the step up to Test rugby. Tate and Fraser have had big Super Rugby seasons and have impressed in training over the past month.
“It’s an especially significant night for us with the chance to represent and celebrate our First Nations people by wearing the Indigenous jersey on home soil in front of our Wallabies family.
“We know New Zealand will pose another tough challenge but we’ve prepared well and will be ready to go on Saturday night.”
Wallabies squad: 1. James Slipper (98 Tests) 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa (5 Tests) 3. Allan Alaalatoa (37 Tests) 4. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (23 Tests) 5. Matt Philip (5 Tests) 6. Ned Hanigan (21 Tests) 7. Michael Hooper (c) (101 Tests) 8. Harry Wilson (2 Tests) 9. Nic White (33 Tests) 10. Noah Lolesio* 11. Marika Koroibete (30 Tests) 12. Irae Simone* 13. Jordan Petaia (4 Tests) 14. Filipo Daugunu (2 Tests) 15. Dane Haylett-Petty (37 Tests)
Replacements: 16. Jordan Uelese (11 Tests) 17. Scott Sio (65 Tests) 18. Taniela Tupou (21 Tests) 19. Rob Simmons (102 Tests) 20. Fraser McReight* 21. Tate McDermott* 22. Reece Hodge (41 Tests) 23. Hunter Paisami (2 Tests)