Wallabies flanker David Pocock has been included in coach Robbie Deans' starting XV for Saturday's clash with Wales in Cardiff.
Pocock led Australia to a three-nil clean sweep of the Grand Slam-winning Wales in June, but has not appeared since injuring his knee during the Wallabies' opening match of the inaugural Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks in August.
The 24-year-old was scheduled to make his return earlier in the end-of-year tour, but was held back after sustaining a mild calf strain at training prior to Australia's departure from Paris following the opening game of the tour.
The change on the openside is one of three alterations from the Wallabies starting line-up during last weekend's gritty 22-19 win over Italy in Florence.
The others see lock Kane Douglas return from a knee injury to take over from the suspended Sitaleki Timani, while Tatafu Polota-Nau resumes in the middle of the front row.
Although Pocock will not captain the Wallabies this weekend, with that honour remaining with Pocock's long-time Western Force and Wallaby colleague Nathan Sharpe as he plays his 116th and final Test; Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says his return will provide the squad with fresh impetus - both physically and mentally.
"David is one of the best in the world as a player, and is growing every day as a leader, so naturally we are delighted to have him back," said Deans.
"While he has continued to contribute off the field, this tour has been one of frustration for him, but we were not prepared to take any risks and potentially compromise either the player or the team, in terms of his fitness.
"The upside to the wait is that his return comes at a time where we need fresh energy, as was evident at times during our Test in Italy last weekend."
Although Deans believes Pocock is capable of playing the full Test, pointing to the lengthy training background he had prior to the calf strain, the inclusion of Hooper in the match night squad gives Australia the option of applying two openside flankers to the breakdown contest.
This is a tactic the Wallabies employed with success, when using the fetchers in tandem, during the June Tests against Wales.
"Michael [Hooper] has had a massive year and it was evident that for him, as well as some others, it was starting to take its toll last weekend," added Deans.
"He's earned the right to finish the year on the park. Having the option of working him alongside David at some point during the contest is a win-win for us."
Polota-Nau, who has started 11 of Australia's 14 Tests in 2012, was a late withdrawal after being named to start the match against the Azzurri, due to general soreness carried over from Australia's 20-14 win over England in the Cook Cup Test match at Twickenham two weekends ago.
Douglas, who didn't accompany the Wallabies to Italy, instead continuing his rehabilitation in London where he could attend to his ill mother; has been put through a searching physical examination since rejoining the squad in Cardiff, with Deans saying his knee had passed the Tests with flying colours.
"Kane is ready to go," explained the coach.
"It's obviously been a trying time for his whole family recently, but his dedication - both to his family and his career - is clear, and a testament to the character of the man.
"He arrived in Cardiff having done the work on his rehab, has got stuck in since he's been here, and was wearing the biggest smile I'd seen in a while once told he had the nod to play. He's looking forward to it."
The Australian bench includes the tour's newest arrival, Waratahs scrum-half Brendan McKibbin, who jetted in from Sydney on Tuesday morning to join the touring party.
While Hooper and hooker Stephen Moore dropped back to the bench from last week's run-on side, McKibbin is the only new player into the matchday squad.
Still eligible for Scotland after having been born in Glasgow, McKibbin would become the squad's fifth halfback of 2012, the 42nd player to be used by the Wallabies through 15 Tests this year, and the 14th new cap amongst that number, should he be required to take the field.
As well as providing the back drop to the end to Sharpe's 11-year Test career, the Millennium Stadium also provides the setting for the 50th Test in the career of Berrick Barnes, who scored two tries as a replacement on debut against Japan at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, before making his run on debut against Wales in Cardiff during that tournament.
Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Digby Ioane.
Date: Saturday, December 1
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Venue: Millennium Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Greg Garner (England)
Television match official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)