Brumbies rookie set for Wallabies debut

Rookie flyhalf Noah Lolesio will replace James O’Connor and make his Test debut for the Wallabies in the Tri-Nations opener in Sydney on Saturday.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has handed debuts to Lolesio and inside centre Irae Simone, with key playmaking duo O’Connor and Matt To’omua out injured for Saturday’s must-win Test match.

The pair are two of four uncapped players in Rennie’s match-day 23, with Queensland Reds duo Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight in line for their first Wallabies appearances from the bench.

There are a further two changes to the backline from the team that lost the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland on 18 October, as the experienced Dane Haylett-Petty starts at fullback for the first time this year, while the dynamic Jordan Petaia starts at outside centre in what will be his first Test in Australia.

Allan Alaalatoa is the only change to the pack, named for his first start in 2020 alongside Brandon Paenga-Amosa and James Slipper in the front row, the latter set to play his 99th Test for his country. Taniela Tupou is among the substitutes.

‘It’s really exciting to be able to name four more debutants in the squad this week,’ Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said.

‘Noah and Irae have played a lot of footy together and we have no doubt they’re ready to take the step up to Test rugby. Tate and Fraser have had big Super Rugby seasons and have impressed in training over the past month.

‘It’s an especially significant night for us with the chance to represent and celebrate our First Nations people by wearing the Indigenous jersey on home soil in front of our Wallabies family.

‘We know New Zealand will pose another tough challenge but we’ve prepared well and will be ready to go on Saturday night.’

Wallabies – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Hunter Paisami, 23 Reece Hodge.

Photo: Matt King/Getty Images