Kurtley Beale will start at fullback and OIlie Hoskins is in line for a shock Test debut as a season of unexpected Wallabies selections continues for Sunday’s clash with England (4.30am AEDT).
Beale, who made an unlikely comeback via the bench in Monday’s loss to Scotland, will replace Andrew Kellaway in the No.15 jersey at Twickenham.
The impressive Kellaway will revert to the right wing in place of the luckless Jordan Petaia who has succumbed to another hamstring injury.
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But while Petaia’s latest setback is unfortunate, the Wallabies brains trust will be far more concerned with the significant setbacks in the engine room.
Quality tighthead props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa have both been ruled out with concussion symptoms after copping head knocks against Scotland.
That means 112 Test veteran James Slipper, predominantly a loosehead, will start in the No.3 jersey.
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Slipper last started a Test at tighthead in 2012 but does have more recent Super Rugby experience in the position.
He’s as wily as they come but with youngster Angus Bell getting the nod at loosehead, England will undoubtedly target Australia’s understrength scrum.
The propping crisis means a fairytale call up for 28-year-old Perth product Hoskins, who will almost certainly make his Test debut from the bench.
A specialist tighthead, Hoskins played for the Western Force between 2014-16 before taking up a contract with London Irish.
The tighthead has become a pillar of the Irish pack with 123 appearances and provides valuable experience following Tupou’s sickening collision.
France-based hooker Tolu Latu will make his return to the Wallabies for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup while prop Tom Robertson also comes onto the bench.
Under Eddie Jones, England peeled off seven straight victories against Michael Cheika’s Wallabies and now Dave Rennie gets his first crack at the 2019 Rugby World Cup runners-up.
“Playing England at a packed Twickenham is one of the toughest assignments in Test rugby but we’re excited by that,” Rennie said.
“While it’s disappointing for Taniela and Allan who weren’t able to pass their protocols within the six day turnaround, it’s created an opportunity for Ollie to realise a lifelong dream.
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“He’s impressed us with his dedication and diligence to get up to speed quickly and we’re confident he’ll do a good job for us.”
Iziaia Perese’s impressive Test debut off the bench led to Andrew Mehrtens calling for a promotion to the starting side on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts.
But Rennie has given Hunter Paisami and Len Ikitau another opportunity to grow their midfield partnership.
Noah Lolesio is also set to make an impact off the bench after taking Beale’s place among the reserves.
Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui had argued for Will Skelton’s inclusion in the run-on side but he will again be used as a bench weapon behind starting locks Rory Arnold and Izack Rodda.
WALLABIES (15-1): Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Tom Wright, James O’Connor, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper (c), Rob Leota, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell
Reserves: Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson, Oliver Hoskins, Will Skelton, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio, Izaia Perese