Wallabies name Hooper's replacement for Wales Test
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has urged replacement flank Pete Samu to bring his own “athletic edge” against Wales rather than try to emulate injured skipper Michael Hooper in their Test against Wales.
Samu got the nod at No.7 with Hooper to miss the tour-ending Test on the weekend at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium due to a foot injury suffered in last week’s loss to England.
Rennie said Samu, who replaced workhorse Hooper midway through the second half, could offer the team something different.
“We picked Pete for a reason – he’s obviously been covering seven so he’s more than equipped to do the job,” Rennie said.
‘He’s just got a different game. He does have post-tackle presence – not as obvious as ‘Hoops’ but he does give you an athletic edge.
“We’re really excited about having Pete there and we just want him to go out and play his game to not try and emulate ‘Hoops’.”
⚡️ Willy G turns them inside out. #WindbackWednesday
— Wallabies (@wallabies) November 17, 2021
The Australians are looking to avoid a first winless spring tour of Europe since 1976 and their hopes were boosted with tighthead props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa both overcoming head-knocks to line up.
With four changes to the run-on side, Tupou will start alongside hooker Tolu Latu, who has been promoted from the bench, while loosehead James Slipper will captain the side for just the second time in the absence of Hooper.
“We’re keen to find out a lot about these boys who’ve come in and he [Latu] got a bit of a cameo last week,” Rennie said.
“He’s trained really well and got his head around things and we think he will give us a bit of an edge physically and in particular, with Hoops not playing, having an onball presence at two will complement what Pete Samu can give us.”
Reds wing Filipo Daugunu will run on for his first Test since breaking his arm against France back in July while Waratahs inside back Lalakai Foketi is in line for his first cap after being included on the bench.
Will Skelton has been named as the replacement lock for the third straight week, while Lachlan Swinton provides backrow cover in his first opportunity since losing his place following his yellow card against the Springboks in September.
Rennie said the team wanted to finish a rollercoaster year on a high.
“We’ve made some great shifts this year, but we’ve been disappointed with our performances in the last two Tests and we’ll be looking to ensure we finish the year on a positive note against Wales on Saturday night.”
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Lachlan Swinton, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Tom Wright.
Date: Saturday, November 20
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 17.30 (17.30 GMT; 04.30 AEDT Sunday, November 21)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)