Veteran lock Cadeyrn Neville and hooker David Porecki were handed Australia debuts on Thursday in a powerful pack to face England in the first Test, while playmaker Quade Cooper got the nod over James O’Connor.
Neville, at 33, will become the third-oldest man to debut for Australia when he starts at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday after being on the fringes of the team for a decade.
Lineout specialist Neville finally gets his chance with Izack Rodda out injured and will partner ACT Brumbies teammate Darcy Swain in the second row.
Porecki also got a maiden call-up with his five years of experience for Saracens and London Irish in his favour after a stellar Super Rugby season with the NSW Waratahs.
Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Leota and Rob Valetini join them in the pack, with flank Michael Hooper leading the side again in his 119th Test as Australia look to snap an eight-match losing streak against Eddie Jones’ England dating back to 2015.
Veteran Cooper won the battle for the No 10 shirt ahead of O’Connor, who failed to make the bench, with Noah Lolesio preferred, and will reunite with fellow Japan-based backs Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete.
Cooper will reignite his partnership with scrumhalf Nic White for the first time since leading the Wallabies to five straight Test wins in 2021.
Koroibete slots on to the left wing with Andrew Kellaway on the right to deal with an expected kicking barrage from the English, with Len Ikitau and Tom Banks completing the backline.
“The whole squad has worked hard over the past fortnight for what’s going to be a tough three-Test series against a very good England side,” said Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.
“Earning their first caps is a proud occasion for David, Cadeyrn and their families, with both men taking a unique journey to realise their dream of wearing the Wallabies jersey.
“The honour of representing our country is a massive motivating factor and we’ll be doing everything we can to put in a performance that makes all Australians proud.”
Australia – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Rob Leota, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Subs: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 James Slipper, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Jordan Petaia.
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