O’Connor in at flyhalf for Wallabies, Pumas make 4 changes

August 11, 2022 GMT
Argentina's Tomas Cubelli, center, is tackled by Australia's Nic White, right, and Australia's Rob Valetini, during their rugby championship match in Mendoza, Argentina, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina's Tomas Cubelli, center, is tackled by Australia's Nic White, right, and Australia's Rob Valetini, during their rugby championship match in Mendoza, Argentina, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina's Tomas Cubelli, center, is tackled by Australia's Nic White, right, and Australia's Rob Valetini, during their rugby championship match in Mendoza, Argentina, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
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Argentina's Tomas Cubelli, center, is tackled by Australia's Nic White, right, and Australia's Rob Valetini, during their rugby championship match in Mendoza, Argentina, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
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Argentina's Tomas Cubelli, center, is tackled by Australia's Nic White, right, and Australia's Rob Valetini, during their rugby championship match in Mendoza, Argentina, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

SAN JUAN, Argentina (AP) — Australia will feature a new flyhalf and Argentina three new players in its backline when the teams meet Saturday in their second Rugby Championship match in two weeks.

James O’Connor will take over at flyhalf from the injured Quade Cooper and center Lalakai Foketi will make his second test appearance as the Wallabies attempt to make it two wins in a row over the Pumas in their match at San Juan.

Head coach Dave Rennie has favored O’Connor to make his first test start of the season ahead of Noah Lolesio, who has been left out of the matchday 23. O’Connor started on the bench in two of Australia’s home tests against England last month.

Inside center Hunter Paisami also has been ruled out with injury after sustaining a concussion in the first test, opening the door to Foketi, who made his first test appearance against Wales last year.

Among the forwards, Taniela Tupou will start at tighthead prop in place of Allan Alaalatoa, who has returned to Australia for personal reasons. Rory Arnold has been named beside Darcy Swain in the second row after recovering from a calf injury.

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Melbourne Rebels prop Pone Fa’amausili has been named on the bench for what might be his test debut almost two years after first being selected in the Wallabies squad.

Australia won last weekend’s first test against Argentina 41-26. In that match, Cooper ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon during a non-contact play and he faces a lengthy layoff.

“After a tough, physical game last week it’s great to be able to call on the experience of guys like James and Rory and also see the team’s excitement for (Foketi) and Irae (Simone) who get to wear the Wallaby gold again on Saturday,” Rennie said. “It’s going to be a proud occasion for Pone and his family and it’s a testament to him for the hard work and obstacles he’s had to overcome to earn his first test cap.”

Simone has been named on the bench alongside Tate McDermott and Reece Hodge.

“Argentina and their supporters will be expecting a response this weekend and we’ll need to increase our physicality and accuracy to get another positive result in San Juan,” Rennie said.

Pumas head coach Michael Cheika made four changes to his lineup for the match.

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The former Wallabies coach has made only one change to his forward pack, promoting Thomas Gallo to start at loosehead prop while Manuel Tetaz Chaparro drops to the bench.

Cheika has shaken up the Pumas’ backline with changes at scrumhalf, center and winger.

Gonzalo Bertranou will start at scrumhalf as Tomas Cubelli moves to the reserves. Juan Imhoff returns on the left wing while Emiliano Boffelli switches to the right wing and Santiago Cordero drops out of the match lineup.

Juan Imhoff returns on the left wing while Emiliano Boffelli moves to the right wing and Santiago Cordero drops out of the match squad. Matias Moroni has been promoted from the bench to start in place of Matias Orlando at center.

“We’ve tried to give everyone a chance in training in the week to show who, within the strategy for the game on Saturday, is ready for the game,” Cheika said. “Some have earned the opportunity from training and with others it might be a little bit tactical. It’s about improving all things, in the scrum, maul, line outs and rucks so that we can be competitive in every game”

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Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia, Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Juan Imhoff, Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez Samso, Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Julian Montoya (captain), Thomas Gallo. Reserves: Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Tetaz-Chaparro, Joel Sclavi, Facundo Isa, Rodrigo Bruni, Tomas Cubelli, Tomas Albornoz, Lucio Cinto.

Australia: Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, James O’Connor, Nic White; Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Jed Holloway, Darcy Swain, Rory Arnold, Taniela Tupou, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper (captain). Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Matt Gibbon, Pone Fa’amausili, Nick Frost, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Irae Simone, Reece Hodge.

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