Injuries and suspension have resulted in the Wallabies making seven changes to their Day 23 ahead of Saturday’s crucial second Test against England. Returning to the starting lineup, Taniela Tupou is back to fitness, backing Tom Wright and Hunter Paisami, while Jordan Petaia and Matt Philip both promoted from substitutes’ bench.
Tupou, aka the ‘Tongan Thor’, has recovered from a calf problem to fill the hole left by Allan Alaalatoa’s concussion in the first test, while Wright will replace Andrew Kellaway who has damaged a hamstring. Petaia takes over as full-back from Tom Banks, who broke an arm in Australia’s 32-30 win in Perth and Paisami takes on Len Ikitau in midfield. Philip replaces Darcy Swain who was sent off last weekend and then banned for two weeks.
As Quade Cooper also failed to squeeze a calf during the warm-up last Saturday, the youthful Noah Lolesio will continue as the starting fly-half. On the bench, slot Nick Frost is lining up to make his test debut, while Izaia Perese is another addition. James O’Connor will be the backup stand-off, who was called up just before kick-off last week.
It leaves skipper Michael Hooper as the only novice Wallaby player with over 50 caps of testing experience, although Tupou’s return will boost Australian front row dynamics. “It’s great to have Taniela back this week and he’s extremely excited to don the gold jersey in his hometown,” said head coach Dave Rennie. Likewise, Jordy is looking forward to the opportunity as a fullback and of course it will be a proud evening for Nick and his family for his test debut.
Australia have won their last 10 Tests in Brisbane, with England the last team to beat them at the Suncorp Stadium in 2016. Saturday’s game will be the 100th Test in Brisbane, where a win would secure the Wallabies a slice of history as the first team to win the Ella-Mobbs Cup. The home team will also wear a specially designed First Nations Jersey and sing the national anthem in the Yugambeh language.