Underlining his faith in Australia’s generation next, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will blood his eighth and ninth Test debutants on Saturday night while Reece Hodge has been named at five-eighth.
Brumbies winger Tom Wright and NSW flanker Lachie Swinton will start in the fourth and final Bledisloe Cup clash of the year against the All Blacks, for whom Akira Ioane will make his long-awaited Test debut after years on the fringes of the squad.
Wright’s inclusion in the Australian side has forced Filipo Daugunu to the bench, while Swinton’s start has relegated his Waratahs teammate Ned Hanigan to a finisher’s role. Swinton will form a dynamic Wallabies back row in Brisbane with fellow emerging star Harry Wilson and 102-Test skipper Michael Hooper.
Barring a training injury, Wright and fellow 22-year-old Swinton will be the latest young talents Rennie has introduced to the international arena in 2020.
Wilson, flanker Fraser McReight and exciting backs Hunter Paisami, Irae Simone, Noah Lolesio, Daugunu and Tate McDermott have already made their Test debuts in the Bledisloe Cup cauldron this year.
Like Daugunu, though, Simone has paid the price for Australia’s record 43-5 loss in game three, dropped altogether from the match-day 23 with Hunter Paisimi recalled at inside centre.
The goalkicking Hodge has replaced Noah Lolesio at No 10 in what will be the 41-Test star’s first Wallabies start of 2020.
Hooker Folau Fainga’a returns to the match-day squad as a replacement alongside props Taniela Tupou and Angus Bell, who is set to follow in his father Mark’s footsteps with his first Test cap off the bench.
Hanigan and Queensland Reds captain Liam Wright will provide cover to the remaining forwards. After making his debut last weekend, Tate McDermott will again be called upon to provide spark as the replacement halfback. Lolesio and the electric Daugunu round out the team.
Prop James Slipper will play his 100th Test for Australia at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s going to be a really special night for James in front of his family and friends back at his home ground and I know the team will be doing everything they can to make sure it’s a memorable result,” Rennie said.
“Lachlan, Tom and Angus have been excellent over the past seven weeks and have earned their first jersey for Australia through hard work and good performances.”
After a draw and two defeats in the opening three matches, the Wallabies are hoping to avoid a sixth Bledisloe series whitewash in the past decade.
“As a whole group, we were really disappointed after last weekend and we get a chance to show our character on Saturday,” Rennie said.
Ioane, one of four new caps named by All Blacks coach Ian Foster, will start at blindside flanker, with Shannon Frizell dropping out of the matchday squad after he started the last three games against the Wallabies.
“We’ve been really impressed with Akira,” Foster said. “He’s keen, he’s ready and to have his first test start is pretty special.”
Ioane will join younger brother Rieko, who has been brought back onto the left wing to replace Caleb Clarke, after he started the Test season at centre but was then named on the bench last week, where he scored a try.
The Ioanes join all three Barrett brothers in the starting side, with Jordie shifting from wing to fullback, while Beauden moves into his preferred flyhalf role to replace Richie Mo’unga, who was superb against the Wallabies last week.
Scott Barrett has also predictably been given a start after he recovered from foot surgery and played the last two games from the bench. Uncapped loose forward Cullen Grace, hooker Asafo Aumua and utility back Will Jordan are expected to make their debuts from the bench.
“I know Asafo is also excited for his first Test and he’ll bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm when he comes off the bench,” Foster said while adding that Grace and Jordan had also impressed with their work at training.
Australia: 15-Tom Banks, 14-Tom Wright, 13-Jordan Petaia, 12-Hunter Paisami, 11-Marika Koroibete, 10-Reece Hodge, 9-Nic White, 8-Harry Wilson, 7-Michael Hooper (captain), 6-Lachlan Swinton, 5-Matt Philip, 4-Rob Simmons, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1-James Slipper. Replacements: 16-Folau Fainga’a, 17-Angus Bell, 18-Taniela Tupou, 19-Ned Hanigan, 20-Liam Wright, 21-Tate McDermott, 22-Noah Lolesio, 23-Filipo Daugunu
New Zealand: 15-Jordie Barrett, 14-Sevu Reece, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 12-Ngani Laumape, 11-Rieko Ioane, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-TJ Perenara, 8-Ardie Savea, 7-Sam Cane (captain), 6-Akira Ioane, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Scott Barrett, 3-Ofa Tuungafasi, 2-Codie Taylor, 1-Karl Tu’inukuafe. Replacements: 16-Asafo Aumua, 17-Alex Hodgman, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Cullen Grace, 21-Brad Weber, 22-Damian McKenzie, 23-Will Jordan