Wallabies ring changes in bid to keep Bledisloe Cup series alive against settled All Blacks

Uncapped Brumbies backs Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone will make their Test debuts against the All Blacks in Sydney as Wallabies coach Dave Rennie rung the changes for the third game of the 2020 Bledisloe Cup series.

New Zealand’s Hoskins Sotutu will make his first Test start as visiting coach Ian Foster made just three changes to his starting lineup for Saturday’s match, which doubles as the Tri-Nations opener.

The 20-year-old Lolesio replaces the injured James O’Connor as starting flyhalf and will face a baptism of fire at ANZ Stadium where the All Blacks will be bent on sealing the Bledisloe Cup with a match to spare.

Lolesio’s Super Rugby teammate Simone slots into inside centre in the team named on Thursday, with regular Matt Toomua ruled out with a groin injury after breaking down during the 27-7 loss to the All Blacks in Auckland two weeks ago.

Loose forward Fraser McReight and his Queensland scrumhalf teammate Tate McDermott are in line to play their first Wallabies Tests after being named on the bench.

“It’s really exciting to be able to name four more debutants in the squad this week,” 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.”

The All Blacks, who have retained the Bledisloe Cup since 2003, hold a 1-0 lead in the series after the victory at Eden Park and a 16-16 draw in the first clash in Wellington.

The experienced Dane Haylett-Petty has been recalled at fullback in place of Tom Banks, who drops out of the matchday squad. Simone will partner with livewire Jordan Petaia in a raw midfield, with Petaia promoted to starting centre in place of Hunter Paisami, who drops to the bench.

Allan Alaalatoa is the only change to the pack, named for his first start in 2020 at the expense of Taniela Tupou, who has also dropped to the reserves.

For the All Blacks, Sotutu has replaced Ardie Savea at No 8, while Karl Tu’inukuafe comes in for Joe Moody at loosehead prop. Experienced lock Sam Whitelock has also returned to the starting side in place of Tupou Vaa’i.

Savea remained in New Zealand for the birth of his second child, while Moody was battling concussion after a head knock in the 27-7 victory over the Wallabies at Eden Park earlier this month. Whitelock missed the Eden Park game after he presented with concussion symptoms following the 16-16 draw in the first game in Wellington.

Sotutu came off the bench in the first two Tests against the Wallabies earlier this month and Foster said he had deserved his first Test start. “He’s had plenty of minutes already in the Bledisloe Cup series and he’s ready to go,” Foster said. “He’s excited. It’s a chance to start his first test so it’s pretty special for him.”

Ngani Laumape has also returned to the squad after he broke his arm in Super Rugby Aotearoa and moved onto the replacements’ bench while Tyrel Lomax has come onto the bench for Nepo Laulala, who is also on paternity leave. Rieko Ioane was also brought back onto the bench after he was a late withdrawal from the Eden Park game.

Australia: 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 (captain), 6-Ned Hanigan, 5-Matt Philip, 4-Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1-James Slipper. Replacements: 16-Jordan Uelese, 17-Scott Sio, 18-Taniela Tupou, 19-Rob Simmons, 20-Fraser McReight, 21-Tate McDermott, 22-Reece Hodge, 23-Hunter Paisami.

New Zealand: 15-Beauden Barrett, 14-Jordie Barrett, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 12-Jack Goodhue, 11-Caleb Clarke, 10-Richie Mo’unga, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 7-Sam Cane (captain), 6-Shannon Frizell, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Patrick Tuipulotu, 3-Ofa Tuungafasi, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Karl Tu’inukuafe. Replacements: 16-Codie Taylor, 17-Alex Hodgman, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Scott Barrett, 20-Dalton Papalii, 21-TJ Perenara, 22- Ngani Laumape, 23-Rieko Ioane.