Sun. Oct 24th, 2021


Team news as Wallabies make two changes to their XV to take on Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Arena from 10.55am; Reece Hodge is brought in at full-back for his first start of the year; Rob Leota starts at blindside flanker; James O’Connor back on bench

Last Updated: 23/09/21 1:46pm

Reece Hodge has been brought in at full-back vs Argentina for his first Wallabies start of the year

Reece Hodge has been brought in at full-back vs Argentina for his first Wallabies start of the year

Reece Hodge will make his first Wallabies start of the year when Australia take on Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday, live on Sky Sports, after getting the nod over James O’Connor at full-back.

Hodge replaces the injured Tom Banks, while Rob Leota gets his first Test start at blindside flanker in the only changes to the starting side that secured the second of back-to-back wins over South Africa last weekend.

“We’re pretty keen to keep it as constant as we can,” head coach Dave Rennie told media on Thursday of his selections.

“Hodgey put down a couple of high balls last week but outside of that he was excellent, his kicking was great, his defence was really strong.”

Dave Rennie spoke to media on Thursday regarding his team selections

Dave Rennie spoke to media on Thursday regarding his team selections

Banks fractured his right arm at Lang Park and O’Connor, who has not played Test rugby this year because of a groin injury, had been touted as his replacement.

The 31-year-old, who started three Tests at fly-half for Australia last season, was instead named on an otherwise unchanged bench for the clash at North Queensland Stadium (kick-off 11.05am BST).

“He obviously sees himself as a 10,” Rennie said of O’Connor.

“We thought it’s important bringing James into the game late. There is no doubt we think he can play 15.

James O'Connor returns to the squad, but begins as a replacement

James O’Connor returns to the squad, but begins as a replacement

“He won’t give us the wheels of other guys from the back but (he has) a calm head and a smart kicking game, a strong organiser. We’ll see how things pan out over the next few weeks.”

Leota, who got his first taste of international rugby as a replacement in the first win over the Springboks two weeks ago, comes into the back-row for Lachie Swinton.

In his sixth Test, Swinton drew a yellow card for a high tackle in last weekend’s win at Lang Park, having drawn a red card for a high hit on debut against New Zealand last year.

Australia secured a comfortable 30-17 victory over South Africa in their most recent Rugby Championship clash

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Australia secured a comfortable 30-17 victory over South Africa in their most recent Rugby Championship clash

Australia secured a comfortable 30-17 victory over South Africa in their most recent Rugby Championship clash

“That’s certainly a focus for him. It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time,” said Rennie.

“We’re pretty keen to reward Rob (Leota) who’s been with us full-time.”

Australia drew both of their tests against the Pumas last year with the versatile Hodge missing late penalty kicks that would have given Australia victory on both occasions.

Australia: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White; 1 James Slipper, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 3 Taniela Tupou, 4 Izack Rodda, 5 Matt Philip, 6 Rob Leota, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 8 Rob Valetini,

Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 James O’Connor, 23 Jordan Petaia.





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