Milestone for Slipper as Eddie gambles in the midfield
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallabies centurion James Slipper will break George Gregan’s record for the most World Cup matches by an Australian when he runs out at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard against Portugal on Sunday.
The 34-year-old will start at tighthead prop in what will be his 21st Test over four tournaments, putting him one clear of Gregan who sits on 20.
Slipper has been named in an unchanged front row by head coach Eddie Jones, which features Angus Bell and David Porecki, who will captain the side in the first-ever meeting between Australia and Portugal.
Fraser McReight returns at openside flank in the only change to the forward pack, with Brumbies loose forward duo of Tom Hooper and Rob Valetini featuring in every minute of the tournament so far.
Wing Mark Nawaqanitawase, the only other Wallaby yet to miss a minute, has again been named on the right wing with Andrew Kellaway at fullback and Marika Koroibete on the left edge in what will be his 59th Test for Australia.
Nick Frost and Richie Arnold will again combine in the starting second row, with vice-captain Tate McDermott and Ben Donaldson partnering in the halves for consecutive Tests.
Waratahs pair Lalakai Foketi and Izaia Perese have been named as the midfield pairing, the latter starting his first-ever Test at outside centre.
Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp and Pone Fa’amausili are the finishing front row, with Rob Leota set to feature as the finishing lock. His club teammate Josh Kemeny has been selected for his first World Cup appearance as the remaining forward cover in just his second Test.
Issak Fines-Leleiwasa will bring spark as the finishing scrumhalf, with Carter Gordon named as the finishing playmaker and one of just four players to feature in every Wallabies Test so far in 2023. Suliasi Vunivalu has been named as the finishing outside back in all four pool matches.
Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones said: “This is an important game for this young team to attack from the first minute to the 80th. We need to empty the tank.”
“We have a responsibility to put in a performance that makes supporters proud on Sunday, those that have travelled to France and at home in Australia.”
Australia: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Nick Frost, 3 James Slipper, 2 David Porecki (captain), 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Josh Kemeny, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa , 22 Carter Gordon, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu.
Date: Sunday, October 1
Venue: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
Kick-off: 17.45 (15.45 GMT; 16.00 WEST, 1.45 Monday, October 2 AEST)
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (France) & Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Joy Neville (England)