Australia recall O’Connor to face Argentina

Versatile veteran back James O’Connor will make his first start this year for Australia against Argentina after coach Dave Rennie made four changes to his team.

O’Connor, 32, comes in at flyhalf for fellow veteran Quade Cooper who suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon in last week’s 41-26 victory in Mendoza in their Rugby Championship opener.

Saturday’s second match in Argentina takes place in San Juan.

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There is also a return for Rory Arnold to partner Darcy Swain at lock in place of Matt Philip while Taniela Tupou gets the nod at tighthead ahead of Allan Alaalatoa.

The final change brings in Lalakai Foketi for his first start in place of Hunter Paisami at inside centre.

Prop Pone Fa’amausili is set to make his debut off the bench.

“After a tough, physical game last week it’s great to be able to call on the experience of guys like James and Rory and also see the team’s excitement for La (Foketi) and Irae (Simone) who get to wear the Wallaby gold again on Saturday,” said Rennie in announcing the team.

“It’s going to be a proud occasion for Pone (Fa’amausili) and his family and it’s a testament to him for the hard work and obstacles he’s had to overcome to earn his first Test cap.”

Loosehead James Slipper will again captain the Wallabies after Michael Hooper pulled out of last week’s clash on the eve of the game due to mental health issues to return home.

Australia lead the Rugby Championship by a point from South Africa following their last gasp bonus point win last week.

Australia – 15 Tom Wright; 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Marika Koroibete; 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White; 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight; 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Darcy Swain, 4 Rory Arnold; 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Reece Hodge

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Getty Images

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