The Wallabies have received some much needed good news with scrum kingpins Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa both declared fit to tackle Wales in the final Test of the season in Cardiff on Sunday (4.30am AEDT).
Australia’s best tighthead props missed the loss to England in London with concussion last weekend and loosehead James Slipper was forced to switch sides at Twickenham.
But both Tupou and Alaalatoa have passed the HIA return to play protocols in a major boost to a Wallabies side missing captain Michael Hooper with a foot injury.
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Tupou, often used as a bench weapon this season, will start ahead of Alaalatoa against the Six Nations champions.
He will pack down with stand-in skipper Slipper and hooker Tolu Latu, who gets a start ahead of Folau Fainga’a.
With Fraser McReight not touring, versatile loose forward Pete Samu replaces Hooper as openside flanker while forgotten winger Filipo Daugunu has been let off the leash on the left flank.
Waratahs centre Lalakai Foketi is set to make his Test debut from the bench while calls to hand Will Skelton a start have gone unheeded with the big lock again included among the reserves.
The Wallabies have lost their last two games to slip to fifth in the world rankings while injury-hit Wales are ninth but in reality are a better team than that.
“It’s great to have Taniela and Allan back in the mix this week, they bring a level of experience that will be key for us against a tough Welsh team,” Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said.
“Slips is hugely respected in our mob and a strong contributor to our leadership group. He was the obvious choice to lead us in the absence of Hoops.
“Lalakai has been with the squad all year and worked extremely hard to earn his first International opportunity in what’s a proud moment for him and his family.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Wales have been boosted by the availability of prop Tomas Francis, winger Josh Adams and No.8 Aaron Wainwright who were all under injury clouds.
Lock Seb Davies comes in for Will Rowlands while Willis Halaholo starts in midfield alongside Nick Tompkins.
There is no room for Jonathan Davies while Ellis Jenkins is captain in the absence of the injured Alun Wyn Jones.
“Australia have been on the road for a while now – the series they had down south, and a couple of losses in the last couple of games,” Wales coach Wayne Pivac said.
“They will be hurting from that and they will want to finish their tour on a high note, as we would like to finish our campaign on a high note. It bodes well for a pretty interesting fixture.
“Dave Rennie brings a physical approach to the game, and we certainly expect that from the Australians, but we have to be able to match that and impose ourselves on the game.”
WALES (15-1): Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Willis Halaholo, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams, Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Ellis Jenkins, Seb Davies, Adam Beard, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones
Reserves: Elliot Dee, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Ben Carter, Christ Tshiunza, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Johnny McNicholl
WALLABIES (15-1): Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, Rob Leota, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Taniela Tupou, Tolu Latu, James Slipper (c)
Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Will Skelton, Lachlan Swinton, Tate McDermott, Lalakai Foketi, Tom Wright