Wallabies look to Cooper for game-breaking magic
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallaby coach Dave Rennie has named his team for the opening round of the Rugby Championship, when they face Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday.
Waratahs back row forward Jed Holloway will make his Test debut at age 29, named to start at blindside flank.
He’s one of two players named in their first Australian matchday 23, with Melbourne Rebels prop Matt Gibbon set to make his debut off the replacement bench as the loosehead prop cover.
Playmaker Quade Cooper returns to the team, looking for his first minutes in a gold jersey this year after making a full recovery from a calf strain.
He’ll wear the No.10 jersey and partner the in-form Nic White in the halves.
After impressive form in the England Series, Tom Wright will wear the No.15 jersey for the first time in a Test, with the electric Jordan Petaia and powerful Marika Koroibete on the wings, completing the back three.
An all-Brumbies front row sees hooker Folau Fainga’a earn his first start of 2022, with Test centurion James Slipper and stalwart Allan Alaalatoa named as the starting props.
Darcy Swain is another who returns to the team after serving his suspension and is set to reignite his second row combination alongside workhorse Matt Philip.
Yamba product Holloway is joined in the back row by captain Michael Hooper, who will surpass former teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper as the third most-capped Wallaby of all time when he runs out for his 122nd Test match at Estadio Malvinas in Mendoza in the familiar No.7.
The ever-improving Rob Valetini will anchor the scrum for the 14th consecutive time at No.8.
The hard-hitting Hunter Paisami will slot in at inside centre, with Len Ikitau back in the starting line-up as his midfield partner, the pair having last started together for the country against Wales last year.
The mobile Lachlan Lonergan will also play his first Test of the year as the reserve hooker, with fan-favourite Taniela Tupou the prop cover alongside Gibbon.
A 6-2 bench split, sees the dynamic Nick Frost named to cover the second row, with Melbourne-born duo of Rob Leota and Pete Samu the remaining forward cover.
New South Wales captain Jake Gordon will bring energy as the finishing scrumhalf, while Reece Hodge’s versatility will again be called on as the other backline replacement.
The Test marks the beginning of the team’s Rugby Championship campaign, with home Tests against South Africa and New Zealand from later this month.
(Continue below …)
“We’ve had a strong week of preparation over here in Argentina and we are highly motivated to put on a performance that makes our supporters proud back home in Australia,” Wallaby coach Dave Rennie said.
“It’s an extremely special occasion for Jed, Matt and their families and it’s up to the rest of us to make sure it’s a positive memory on their Test debuts.
“Argentina will be full of confidence after their home series win over Scotland and we know we’ll need to be at our best to get a good result on Saturday.”
Australia: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Jake Gordon, 23 Reece Hodge.
Date: Saturday, August 6
Venue: Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza
Kick-off: 16.10 (19.10 GMT; 05.10 AEST Sunday, August 7)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen [South Africa]