No starting changes for Wallabies in 2nd test vs Springboks
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia coach Dave Rennie has named an unchanged starting side from the one which beat South Africa last week in a Rugby Championship match for the return engagement on Saturday in Sydney.
It was the first time in his 26-match tenure as Wallabies coach that Rennie hasn’t made a change to the starting 15, having made at least four in every test so far this year, many forced by injury.
Australia beat the Springboks 25-17 at Adelaide last weekend.
The match Saturday will be the first international event at the refurbished former Sydney Football Stadium. Officials said Thursday that the match will be a sellout at the 42,500-capacity venue.
James Slipper will captain the side at loosehead prop, playing his 121st test which equals that of Michael Hooper and former teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper. He’s joined in the front row by long-time ACT Brumbies teammates Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa.
The second-row combination of Rory Arnold and Matt Philip will again start for the Wallabies as the team looks to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this year.
The Wallabies reserves bench remains a 6-2 split for the second consecutive week, with David Porecki, Scott Sio and Taniela Tupou the front row reinforcements. Darcy Swain will cover the second row, with Rob Leota and Pete Samu offering versatility across the remaining forward positions.
“It’s great to be able to have some consistency in selection with the team that played last week,” Rennie said Thursday. “While rapt with last week’s effort, we’re well aware of the challenge a wounded Springbok poses and the intensity we will require again on Saturday night.”
Earlier in the week, South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber took the opposite approach, making nine changes to his injury-hit team.
Prop Ox Nche, hooker Joseph Dweba, No. 8 Duane Vermeulen, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and wing Warrick Gelant lost their places. Flyhalf Handré Pollard, center Lukhanyo Am and flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit were all ruled out with knee injuries and backup flyhalf Elton Jantjies has a hand injury.
Under pressure for the first time since taking over as coach, Jacques Nienaber moved Damian Willemse from fullback to start at flyhalf and brought 19-year-old Canan Moodie in on the right wing for his test debut.
Willie le Roux returned at fullback, Jesse Kriel replaced Am at outside center, and Jaden Hendrikse was in for de Klerk at scrumhalf.
The Springboks have lost back-to-back games against New Zealand and Australia and were 25-3 down against the Wallabies in Adelaide before two late tries from replacement Kwagga Smith.
Nienaber is facing criticism at home that his tendency to make regular changes to his starting lineup is disruptive, although he’s defended his decisions as necessary to find the best combinations to defend the Rugby World Cup in France next year.
Australia: Reece Hodge, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Jed Holloway, Matt Philip, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper (captain). Reserves: Dave Porecki, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou, Darcy Swain, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Jake Gordon, Andrew Kellaway.
South Africa: Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Damian Willemse, Jaden Hendrikse; Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Frans Steyn, Warrick Gelant.
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