Australia coach Dave Rennie has described the Wallabies as “desperate” to end a tough northern hemisphere tour that has been plagued by injuries.
Rennie and Wales coach Wayne Pivac, a fellow New Zealander, have made injury-enforced changes after both squads had been depleted throughout the Autumn Nations Series.
Michael Hooper setback
The Wallabies will be without outstanding leader Michael Hooper, who picked up a foot injury against England last time out, and will hope to avoid their first winless tour of Europe in 45 years.
Rennie underlined the eagerness of his side and when it was put to him that the Welsh would be especially desperate, he told AAP: “Yes, particularly the Australians.
“I understand that (desperation) after a couple of losses and finding their way past Fiji at the weekend – but we’re pretty desperate as well.
“We haven’t performed as well as we’ve needed to against Scotland and England, and we’re keen to make up for it.”
Pete Samu has been given the task of stepping into Rennie’s captain’s boots and the coach believes the Brumbies back-row can bring an “athletic edge” and said the 29-year-old is “more than equipped to the job”.
Tighthead props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa return to action as they have recovered from head knocks with hooker Tolu Latu starting after being on the bench against England.
Front-row James Slipper reverts to his favoured loosehead side – after starting on the other side of the scrum last week – and will lead the Wallabies for only the second time, to the delight of Rennie.
“Everyone had told me what a high character man he is, and he’s salt of the earth, really impressive. Huge amount of respect in this group and people love him,” he added.
“He genuinely cares about people and cares about this jersey, so it was a pretty easy choice to make him skipper.”
Flyer Filipo Daugunu returns to start his first Test since July after breaking his arm while versatile Waratahs back Lalakai Foketi is in line for his first cap after being named on the bench on the back of good training performances.
A total of four European-based players have been included in the matchday 23. Rennie announced that a review of the ‘Giteau Law’ concerning overseas players’ selection eligibility would be conducted after the tour.
“There are negotiations that need to happen,” he explained. “Obviously, there’s a fair bit of money these players are on over here (in Europe) but there’s certainly two or three guys who have generally talked to me about the opportunity to come back home (to Super Rugby).”
Of his Kiwi coaching battle with Pivac – they’ve crossed swords in club matches in the northern and southern hemispheres but not at international level – Rennie added: “This will not be the first encounter between the two New Zealanders after battling in both Britain and New Zealand but for the first time on the international stage.
“I know him (Pivac), he’s a good man.
“They (Wales) have got genuine on-ball presence, a pretty strong backline and an excellent back three. It is a good side.”