Rugby-Championship

Wallabies make five changes for Pumas

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Australian Rugby head coach Michael Cheika has named his team to play Argentina’s Pumas at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

Wallabies coach Cheika has made five changes to his starting 15 and a further five to his replacements bench.

Scott Sio is the only change to the forward pack as the 55-Test veteran returns from a hamstring injury that forced him out of last weekend’s Test against South Africa.

Will Genia, Christian Lealiifano, Marika Koroibete and Kurtley Beale will all start in a new-look backline as combinations continue to be tested before the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.

Saturday’s clash will be a memorable occasion for Genia, with the halfback set to play his last-ever game at Suncorp Stadium following his decision to retire from Test Rugby at the end of 2019.

Suncorp Stadium has proved a happy hunting ground for the wily number 9, who currently boasts 10 wins from his 12 games in Wallaby Gold at the venue.

The Test against Argentina will also mark the inspirational return of Christian Lealiifano to the International arena. The 31-year-old flyhalf last played for the Wallabies in June 2016 against England, and has now returned to top form following a battle with leukaemia.

Meanwhile, it’s a homecoming for utility James O’Connor who is set to play his first Test in almost six years (2142 days) after being named amongst the reserves. O’Connor signed for the Queensland Reds last week but missed selection for the Test against South Africa.

Luke Jones is also in line to cap his Test return with the flanker to wear the Wallabies jersey for just the fourth time in career and for the first time since the 2014 Spring Tour.

Squad members Joe Powell, Rob Valetini, Jack Maddocks and Jack Dempsey have all returned to their home states to play Club Rugby this weekend.

Australia have lost just one of their last eight games against Argentina, although that defeat came on home soil last year on the Gold Coast.

The Wallabies exacted some revenge in the return fixture after recording the biggest come-from-behind victory in tier-one Test history to secure a 45-34 victory in Salta, Argentina.

Australia

15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakai-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio

Replacements :: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Luke Jones, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 James O’Connor

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