Australia: Michael Hooper returns to the XV to face Scotland after three-month mental health break

Colin Newboult
Wallabies veteran Michael Hooper looks on during training

Inspirational flanker Michael Hooper has been brought straight back into the starting line-up for the Wallabies’ clash with Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

After missing the entirety of the Rugby Championship in order to protect his mental health, Hooper is named in the XV for their opening Autumn Nations Series encounter.

Ready to go

“We reckon he’s ready to go,” head coach Dave Rennie said.

“We had a good chat to him in Sydney and we were going to leave the decision to him if he didn’t feel like he was going to be ready but he’s jumping out of his skin.

“There’s been a lot of indications over the last couple of weeks, even when we’ve been playing he’s constantly texting or watching a lot of footy so that means he’s pretty engaged.

“He’s in a good space, he’s trained well this week and is ready to get back into it.”

Hooper is joined in the side by Tom Banks, who has recovered from a broken arm sustained in the mid-year series with England.

Bernard Foley gets another shot at fly-half, with Noah Lolesio taking his place among the replacements, while Tate McDermott partners him in the decision-making positions.

“We’re fortunate we have three excellent nines and keen to give (Tate) a go, he hasn’t much of a lick lately,” Rennie added.

“He’s trained really well with the Queensland boys over the past couple of weeks and I’ve got a chance to see that first hand.

“We think he can bring something special.”

The forward eight

With Matt Philip out, Nick Frost gets a chance in the XV against Scotland and he partners Cadeyrn Neville in the second-row.

That means Jed Holloway switches to the back-row alongside Hooper and Rob Valetini.

In the front-row, Taniela Tupou is back from injury but has to make do with a place on the bench as Allan Alaalatoa starts at tighthead.

Alaalatoa is joined by hooker David Porecki and captain James Slipper, who continues in the leadership role as Hooper eases himself back into Test rugby.

There is also one potential debutant for the Wallabies this weekend with the uncapped Reds full-back Jock Campbell among the replacements.

Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (c)
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Ned Hanigan, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Nic White, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Jock Campbell

Date: Saturday, October 29
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 17:30 BST (16:30 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

READ MORE: Winger Andrew Kellaway excited at the prospect of facing former Wallaby Jack Dempsey in the Scotland Test