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Wallabies change captain again

Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt is hopeful Liam Wright will only be sidelined for one Test after a shoulder injury ruled the newly-minted captain out of the clash with Wales.

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After becoming the seventh Wallabies captain in just over a year, Wright will sit out Saturday night’s match in Melbourne as one of five changes.

Veteran prop James Slipper will captain the Wallabies, reluctantly, for the 15th time in the Queenslander’s absence.

“He’d [Wright] be a good chance for next week but this week was just too tight,” Schmidt said in Melbourne on Thursday.

“He got a decent whack on the shoulder.

“He ran really [well at training on Thursday] so there’s no other elements of his fitness that we’re worried about, just having full function of the shoulder for a No.6 is pretty important.

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“[Slipper] isn’t massively keen on [captaining].

“He just leads himself well.

“He’ll do a great job. Fantastic experience. It’s that quiet leadership that we’ll need.”

Charlie Cale slots into the No.8 for the first start of his Test career, combining with Fraser McReight and Rob Valetini in the back row.

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Slipper is part of an unchanged front row that includes hooker Matt Faessler and tighthead prop Taniela Tupou.

(Article continues below the Schmidt media briefing …)

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Schmidt is hoping to build on their gritty 25-16 win over last year’s World Cup nemesis.

The Wallabies will be seeking consecutive victories for the first time since a five-game winning streak was halted in 2021 in what would be a huge confidence boost to begin the Schmidt era following the Eddie Jones-led World Cup disaster.

“We made 68 tackles in the last 10-12 minutes,” Schmidt said of last week’s win in Sydney.

“We don’t want to be tackling that long against a Welsh side that is coming in waves.

“We’ve got to get a little bit more pressure on the ball.”

In a major blow for Wales, No.8 Aaron Wainwright [hamstring] and Josh Hathaway [elbow] have been ruled out with injury.

The Welsh haven’t won a Test since last year’s World Cup, and haven’t beaten the Wallabies across 12 Tests in Australia since 1969.

“A big fan of Wainwright,” Schmidt said.

“He was really good for them last year and through last week’s game.

“We tried to double team and he still took the gainline off us.”

Australia: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Charlie Cale, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Jeremy Williams, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Isaac Kailea, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Nic White, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Dylan Pietsch.

Date: Saturday, July 13
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
Kick-off: 19.45 (10.45 UK time; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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