Wallabies bolster front-row for Argentina

Date published: November 19 2020

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has called on Taniela Tupou to tame Argentina, with the giant tighthead prop one of three changes to Australia’s starting line-up for Saturday’s must-win Tri Nations fixture in Newcastle.

Scott Sio will join Tupou in the run-on side after being called in from outside the matchday 23 that defeated the All Blacks in Brisbane to replace the injured James Slipper.

“After being left out in our last Test we got the reaction we expected from Scott, his preparation this week has been excellent and his experience will be invaluable against Argentina,” said Rennie.

The final change is in the back-row, with Ned Hanigan called into the starting side to replace the suspended Lachie Swinton.

Rennie has kept faith with the backline that superbly bounced back against the All Blacks earlier this month.

Reece Hodge continues at 10

With James O’Connor sidelined with a foot injury, Reece Hodge gets another chance to impress selectors and convince Australian rugby officials, including his Super Rugby side the Melbourne Rebels, that he is a genuine number 10.

He will benefit from having a settled midfield combination, with Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia named in the centres.

The back three has plenty of speed in it, with Tom Wright and Marika Koroibete selected on the wings and Tom Banks chosen again in the number 15 jersey. It’s the fourth time in 2020 that Banks has been chosen in the role and after steady performances in the jersey, the Brumbies full-back will want to make a statement in the role to settle the debate over who should be occupying the jersey.

Banks will, however, only be able to do that if the forward pack lays the platform against a hungry Pumas pack, which has plenty of muscle and big bodies.

That’s why Rennie has called up Tupou, who produced his most complete performance in that 24-22 triumph against the All Blacks in Brisbane.

As well as developing his scrummaging in 2020, Tupou has the unique ability to get the Wallabies over the gain-line.

He did that superbly less than a fortnight ago, carrying the ball three times in seven phases in the lead up to his late try in that Bledisloe Cup clash. Rennie will want more of the same.

Without Swinton, who brought an “edge” to the Wallabies’ pack, Rennie wants some more heavy artillery out on the field and there’s no-one bigger than Tupou.

To complement the dynamic running of Tupou, Hanigan has been recalled at number six – the jersey he’s twice filled in 2020.

Hanigan’s improved footwork and excellence in the set-piece will be vital against a Pumas side with one of the best defensive lineouts in the world.

Meanwhile, rather than call up a specialist second-row replacement, Rennie has opted to include an extra loose forward on the replacements bench with Rob Valetini selected alongside Liam Wright. That means that if one of his two locks were to get injured, he would shift Hanigan to the second-row.

Elsewhere, scrum-half Jake Gordon has been given the nod over Tate McDermott, who was impressive in his first two Tests off the bench for the Wallabies.

The Wallabies will need no reminder of the threat that Los Pumas pose. It was only two years ago that the Wallabies were stunned on the Gold Coast by the Argentinians and Rennie will be out to rectify that on Saturday night.

“As a group, we know respect is earned daily and understand the importance of backing up our last performance with another quality effort on Saturday night,” he said.

“The tournament is evenly poised and our fate is in our own hands. We saw how much passion Argentina play with in their performance last weekend and we’re excited by the challenge in Newcastle.”

Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Valetini, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Filipo Daugunu

Date: Saturday, November 21
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-off: 19:45 local (08:45 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Nic Berry (Australia)