Bernard Foley says Nic White’s experience in the Top 14 will stand the scrumhalf in good stead as he returns to the Australia starting XV to face France on Saturday.
White (32) was on the bench for a 16-15 win for the Wallabies at Murrayfield, with Jake Gordon in the run-on side, and spent two seasons playing 57 games with Montpellier on the Mediterranean coast.
“Nic understands what it’s like playing in France, he’s played here for many seasons and is very familiar with the French players,” Wallabies flyhalf Foley said.
“I’m really excited to pair up with him and hopefully we can combine well together.”
There are three other changes as fullback Jock Campbell makes his full debut, Taniela Tupou replaces Allan Alaalatoa, who is suffering from a concussion, and Lalakai Foketi at inside centre.
Loosehead Tupou, still only 26, will make his 45th Test appearance as Rennie’s men head to the French capital before games against Italy, Ireland and Wales later this month.
“He’s buoyant, he’s had a great training week. He’s full of energy,” Rennie said. “I think he’s in a really good place and enjoying the tour. Hopefully we see that reflected on Saturday.”
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) November 3, 2022
Lock Will Skelton, who plays for French club La Rochelle, is on the bench for his first Test since last November less than 10 months out from the start of the Rugby World Cup, held in France.
“We’re trying to make sure when he’s on the field he complements our lineout,” Rennie said. “He wants to make a good fist of it to push for the World Cup next year,” he added.
The Wallabies will start their tournament against Georgia on 9 September at the Stade de France before also facing Fiji, Wales and a final qualifier, one of USA, Portugal, Kenya and Hong Kong who will play off in Dubai for two weeks from Sunday.
“While we were happy to get a win to start the tour, we know we have a lot more in us and will need to be much better on Saturday against what is probably the best team in the world,” Rennie said.
“To play France in Paris less than one year out from a Rugby World Cup here is an incredible opportunity and one we’re all excited by.”
Australia – 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valentini, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Matt Gibson, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Hunter Paisami, 23 Reece Hodge.
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images