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Rugby Championship team news: Australia make six changes for South Africa | New Zealand keep faith with same XV


Reece Hodge will start Saturday’s Test

Australia coach Dave Rennie has made six changes to his starting XV for the Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Adelaide on Saturday as he welcomes back a slew of fit-again players.

Noah Lolesio will start at fly-half in place of the dropped James O’Connor, while Reece Hodge has been promoted to starting full-back as Rennie looks to his prodigious boot to do damage against the world champions.

“With Hodgey at the back, it gives us a big kicking game which we think will be important,” Rennie said on Thursday.

“His ability to identify space and find grass with his big, booming boot is a big reason we picked him.”

Hodge’s promotion has shunted Tom Wright back to the wing after the ACT Brumbies speedster struggled with the high ball in the 48-17 hiding by Argentina in San Juan.

Australia suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Argentina two weeks ago

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Australia suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Argentina two weeks ago

Australia suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Argentina two weeks ago

Andrew Kellaway was considered for a starting role in the back three after recovering from a hamstring injury, Rennie said, but will instead ease in off the bench.

Hooker Folau Fainga’a and inside centre Hunter Paisami will start after recovering from head-knocks, while prop Allan Alaalatoa is also back in the front row after missing San Juan for personal reasons.

Alaalatoa’s recall put Taniela Tupou on the bench, and Rennie demanded more from the Queensland Reds tighthead after his subdued display in San Juan.

“Hes well aware of that. Hes pretty disappointed with his effort in the second Test,” said Rennie.

“We know he’s a very good scrummager but we expect him to dominate with and without the ball.”

Matt Philip will start in the second row in place of the demoted Darcy Swain, while Dave Porecki is back from concussion to provide hooker cover on the bench.

Loosehead prop James Slipper will lead the side again as regular captain Michael Hooper remains unavailable for wellbeing reasons.

Like the hosts, South Africa will be eager to rebound at Adelaide Oval following their home defeat to the resurgent All Blacks at Ellis Park.

Rennie has given Lolesio the nod at 10

Rennie has given Lolesio the nod at 10

With fly-half Quade Cooper steering the side, Australia beat the Springboks in back-to-back Tests in last year’s Rugby Championship.

Cooper is now sidelined with an Achilles injury, though, putting pressure on Lolesio in his first Test since being dropped after struggling in the series-deciding defeat by England in Sydney.

“He wasnt disastrous (against England) but he certainly wasnt as good as he was in Test one,” said Rennie.

“He’s trained well. Noahs got an opportunity to try and cement that jersey,” said Rennie.

Australia: 15. Reece Hodge, 14. Tom Wright, 13. Len Ikitau, 12. Hunter Paisami, 11. Marika Koroibete, 10. Noah Lolesio, 9. Nic White; 1. James Slipper, 2. Folau Fainga’a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Matt Philip, 6. Jed Holloway, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Rob Veletini.

Replacements: 16. Dave Porecki, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Taniela Tupou, 19. Darcy Swain, 20. Rob Leota, 21. Pete Samu, 22. Tate McDermott, 23. Andrew McKellaway.

Barrett ruled out as All Blacks XV unchanged

Meanwhile Coach Ian Foster has made only one forced change to the All Blacks for their Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Christchurch on Saturday, with uncapped flyhalf Stephen Perofeta replacing the injured Beauden Barrett in the reserves.

Barrett was ruled out after suffering a neck injury at training, paving the way for Auckland Blues pivot Perofeta to make his Test debut off the bench.

“He’s been quite impressive behind the scenes,” Foster told reporters on Thursday of 25-year-old Perofeta, who will also provide cover at full-back.

“And the opportunity has come…The whole groups excited about that, got a lot of faith in him.”

After losing the home series against Ireland and the Rugby Championship opener in Mbombela against South Africa, the All Blacks returned to form with an impressive 35-23 victory over the Springboks at their Johannesburg stronghold, Ellis Park.

New Zealand bounced back with a thrilling victory over South Africa in Ellis Park

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New Zealand bounced back with a thrilling victory over South Africa in Ellis Park

New Zealand bounced back with a thrilling victory over South Africa in Ellis Park

Returning to Christchurch for the first time since 2016, the All Blacks face a resurgent Argentina, who thrashed an injury-depleted Australia 48-17 in San Juan after losing to the Wallabies in Mendoza.

“I’m really pleased with the work of the whole squad and there’s a number of guys that are really pushing hard to get some time but I thought that group did a great job,” Foster said of his selection.

“So it’s a good opportunity for them to go again.”

Foster said Barrett’s neck was stiff but was given no advice from medical staff that he would have to miss the second Test against Argentina in Hamilton next week.

The All Blacks will start their first match with selector Joe Schmidt taking on more of a hands-on role as an attack coach and strategist on Foster’s staff.

Recently appointed forwards coach Jason Ryan was also named an official selector on the panel with Schmidt and Foster.

“It was always kind of our intention,” said Foster.

“It’s really important that Joe and I have a strong forward selection voice in our group.”

New Zealand: 15. Jordie Barrett, 14. Will Jordan, 13. Rieko Ioane, 12. David Havili, 11. Caleb Clarke, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Aaron Smith; 1. Ethan de Groot, 2. Samisoni Taukei’aho, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 4. Sam Whitelock, 5. Scott Barrett, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Sam Cane (captain), 8. Ardie Savea.

Replacements: 16. Codie Taylor, 17. George Bower, 18. Fletcher Newell, 19. Tupou Vaa’i, 20. Akira Ioane, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. Stephen Perofeta, 23. Quinn Tupaea.

Watch Australia vs South Africa and New Zealand vs Australia live back-to-back on Sky Sports Main Event and Arena from 6:20am Saturday.



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