Rennie changes 11 as Wallabies face Italy
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Dave Rennie has made 11 changes to his team for their encounter with Italy at Stadio Artemio Franchi, in Florence, on Saturday.
Mark Nawaqantiawase and Ben Donaldson are in line for their Wallabies debuts as part of a revamped squad.
Nawaqantiawase will start on the wing, slotting in alongside Tom Wright and Jock Campbell, as Rennie made 11 changes to the starting side from their narrow defeat to France.
Donaldson has been named on the bench, with Noah Lolesio set to start at flyhalf alongside scrumhalf Jake Gordon.
Brumbies prop Allan Alaalatoa will become the 85th player to captain the Wallabies, taking over from James Slipper who has been rested.
Alaalatoa is the first debutant skipper since Dean Mumm in 2015 against Uruguay, partnering Matt Gibbon and Folau Fainga’a in the front row.
“He’s hugely respected, for anyone that knows Allan well he’s a hell of a man,” Rennie said on Alaalatoa.
“It’s a very proud moment for him and his family. There was a lot of excitement when we named the team, obviously a couple of new boys but the biggest roar was for Allan when he was named as skipper.
“He’s certainly got massive respect, his attention to detail and work ethic. He captains the Brumbies and he’s our best option. What happens long-term who knows but he could definitely skipper Australia long-term.”
Will Skelton earns his first start since returning to the Wallabies set-up, completing the tight five alongside Nick Frost.
He is joined in the forward pack by former Waratahs teammate Ned Hanigan, Fraser McReight and Pete Samu.
Lachlan Lonergan comes onto the bench for the first time on the Spring Tour, with Brumbies teammate Darcy Swain returning from suspension.
Meanwhile, Jordan Petaia has overcome a hamstring complaint and joins Donaldson and Tate McDermott as the back replacements.
“We’re conscious this is a good Italian side,” Rennie reaffirmed.
“I know [Italian coach] Kieran Crowley well and they’ve made really good shifts in the last 12 months. We’ve picked a side that we think is strong and fresh.
“There’s no plan to throw guys into the game early, we’ll judge it as we see it.”
Australia: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Jordan Petaia.
Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Kick-off: 14.00 (13.00 GMT; 24.00 AEDT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Adam Leal (England)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)