Wallabies unchanged for Boks
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallabies coach Dave Rennie insists his side has what it takes to back up last weekend’s Rugby Championship win against South Africa with another victory on Saturday.
If they do topple the Springboks again it would be the first time Rennie’s men have secured back-to-back victories this year.
He’s opted for stability at the selection table with an identical run-on side to the one that beat the Springboks 25-17 last week, the first time in his 26-match reign he hasn’t made a change to the starting 15.
Much has been made of the Wallabies’ poor record of inconsistency under Rennie – they’ve had one multiple-game winning streak in his tenure – but he insisted it wasn’t about his side’s lack of mental application.
“When you win people think it’s relief, and really my thoughts five minutes after the game are how do we win next week?” he told reporters.
“All the preparation and thinking is going into what our weaknesses look like, how do we make sure that we create an edge after a win rather than being satisfied?
“We know we’re going to need to be better because we gave away a lot of penalties last week and the Springboks weren’t able to hurt us.”
#⃣INTERVIEW: @wallabies assistant coach Scott Wisemantel is encouraging flyhalf Noah Lolesio to increase his assertiveness as he looks to pin down the No.10 jumper #RugbyChampionship 🏆#rugbyunion 🌍#Rugby 🏉#AUSvRSA 🇦🇺V🇿🇦
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Rennie stuck with the same lineout crew that was brutalised in Adelaide, winning just seven of their own 13, while only one minor tweak to the bench means he’ll need a huge lift from the same finishers who copped two late tries.
Asked if he’d been tempted to start bench hooker Dave Porecki in place of run-on No.2 Folau Fainga’a, he called on the entire set-piece unit to lift.
“A lineout isn’t just about your hooker – the quality of the lift, timing, the option we call, and you’re up against probably the best offensive lineout in the world,” Rennie said.
“We’ve come up with a plan around how we do that better, hopefully, you see that on Saturday.
“We’re really disappointed with the impact we got off the bench it was sewn up and we had a real chance to put the foot on the throat.”
The only change to the 23-man squad sees scrumhalf Jake Gordon grab a spot on the bench in place of Tate McDermott.
It’s a crunch encounter for the Wallabies in their pursuit of a first Championship since 2015, but there could be a temptation to have one eye on next weekend’s clash with a struggling New Zealand side that might be ripe for a Bledisloe Cup beating for the first time since 2002.
“Every Test is important, we want to get some momentum and so that’s why it’s good to have continuity at selection,” Rennie said.
“We’ve got ourselves in a reasonable position on the table, along with Argentina, so it’s a big weekend for all teams in the comp.
“We want to take confidence and momentum into that Bledisloe series, but our focus is totally on South Africa at the moment.”
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has taken the opposite approach, swinging the axe with eight changes to his injury-hit team.
Notably, flyhalf Handre Pollard misses with a knee injury and will be replaced in the No.10 shirt by Damian Willemse, whose fullback role will be taken by veteran Willie le Roux.
They’ve also debuted lightning-quick 19-year-old Canan Moodie who looks a threat on the wing.
Australia: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 David Porecki, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Jack Gordon, 23 Andrew Kellaway.
Date: Saturday, September 3
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 19.35 (11.35 SA time; 09.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Tual Trainini (France)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)