O'Connor returns for Wallabies in Townsville

Thu, 23/09/2021, 01:00 am
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit

Queensland playmaker James O’Connor has been named to make his return to the Wallabies side via the bench ahead of this Saturday night’s eToro Rugby Championship clash with Argentina at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

O’Connor will provide strike off the pine alongside Reds teammates Jordan Petaia and Tate McDermott, while Taniela Tupou will start in the front row after his stunning performance last week.

The Wallabies will wear their iconic First Nations jersey at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday, in what will also be their first-ever Test match in Townsville.

Reece Hodge has been selected at fullback, after Tom Banks suffered a fractured arm in the 30-17 win over South Africa last weekend, with fellow Rebel Rob Leota named to start for the first time in the backrow.

The duo are two of three changes to the match day squad with playmaker O’Connor set to make his first International appearance for the year as a finisher.

An unchanged front row sees Queenslander James Slipper play his 109th Test alongside club teammate Folau Fainga’a and powerhouse Tupou, who will be looking to replicate his impact from last weekend against the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium.

Izack Rodda continues his successful return to the Test arena alongside Matt Philip in the second row.

Leota will be joined in the backrow by skipper Michael Hooper at openside flanker and Rob Valetini at no.8.

Nic White will again partner Quade Cooper in the halves, with the newly re-signed Len Ikitau to build on his strong combination with Samu Kerevi in the midfield.

Hodge’s first start for the year at fullback is the only change to the back three, with last week’s two-try hero Marika Koroibete on the right wing and Rebels flyer Andrew Kellaway on the left.

The reserve front row sees Queensland-raised Feleti Kaitu’u earn his third cap as the replacement hooker alongside finishing props Tom Robertson and Angus Bell.

Babinda-born Darcy Swain will be the replacement lock with his Brumbies teammate Pete Samu enjoying a rich vein of form as the backrow cover.

Queensland number nine McDermott will provide spark off the pine late in the game, alongside O’Connor as the finishing halves. Their Reds teammate Petaia rounds out the game day 23.

The Wallabies have now climbed to number three in the world following the back-to-back wins over the world champions.

Argentina's 'Los Pumas' have proven a tricky match-up for Australia in recent years, with the two sides sharing the spoils in both Test matches played last year.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “It's a really proud moment for Rob and his family to earn his first start in Wallaby gold and we're all rapt for him.” “He’s really impressed us with his work ethic on and off the field and worked hard for this opportunity.

"It's been fantastic to connect with the Townsville community this week ahead of the first ever Test here and we're determined to build on the past couple of performances on Saturday night."

Every Wallabies Test will be ad-free, live and on-demand with extended coverage on Stan Sport. Every home Wallabies Test will also be live, free-to-air on the Nine Network.

Wallabies team to play Argentina at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville on Saturday 25 September, 8:05pm AEST:

1. James Slipper (108 Tests)

2. Folau Fainga’a (19 Tests)

3. Taniela Tupou (33 Tests)

4. Izack Rodda (28 Tests)

5. Matt Philip (17 Tests)

6. Rob Leota (1 Test)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (113 Tests)

8. Rob Valetini (12 Tests)

9. Nic White (41 Tests)

10. Quade Cooper (72 Tests)

11. Marika Koroibete (41 Tests)

12. Samu Kerevi (36 Tests)

13. Len Ikitau (7 Tests)

14. Andrew Kellaway (7 Tests)

15. Reece Hodge (51 Tests)


16. Feleti Kaitu’u (2 Tests)

17. Angus Bell (10 Tests)

18. Tom Robertson (25 Tests)

19. Darcy Swain (7 Tests)

20. Pete Samu (13 Tests)

21. Tate McDermott (10 Tests)

22. James O’Connor (55 Tests)

23. Jordan Petaia (12 Tests)

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