Qauntas Wallabies make four changes for Bledisoe opener
Qantas Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has made four changes to his starting 15 ahead of Saturday night’s opening Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand at Optus Stadium in Perth.
Allan Alaalatoa will return to Test arena for the first time in 2019 in what caps a memorable week, after the 25-year old took out the Brett Robinson Award as Brumbies Players’ Player of the Year.
Alaalatoa is joined in the front-row by hooker Tolu Latu with Folau Fainga’a shifting to the reserves while Nic White partners Christian Lealiifano in the halves.
This will be the first Test start for White and Lealiifano as a halves pairing but the combination has a long history following several seasons as chief playmakers at the Brumbies in Super Rugby.
Utility James O’Connor will also earn his first Test start since September 2013 against Argentina in Perth, and it also marks his first start in the centres following an International career that has covered nearly every position in the backline.
Perth has never hosted a Bledisloe Cup clash in the trophy’s 116-year history and tickets were snapped up in record time after Optus Stadium sold out more than nine months ago.
The Buildcorp Wallaroos and Black Ferns will also take centre stage on Saturday night with the Women’s clash to kick off at 3pm AWST.
1. Scott Sio (56 Tests)
2. Tolu Latu (13 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (32 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (19 Tests)
5. Rory Arnold (21 Tests)
6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (13 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (93 Tests)
8. Isi Naisarani (2 Tests)
9. Nic White (24 Tests)
10. Christian Lealiifano (20 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (21 Tests)
12. Samu Kerevi (vc) (27 Tests)
13. James O’Connor (45 Tests)
14. Reece Hodge (35 Tests)
15. Kurtley Beale (85 Tests)
16. Folau Fainga’a (9 Tests)
17. James Slipper (88 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (13 Tests)
19. Adam Coleman (31 Tests)
20. Luke Jones (4 Tests)
21. Will Genia (102 Tests)
22. Matt To’omua (44 Tests)
23. Tom Banks (4 Tests)