O’Connor at flyhalf, Arnold to start in San Juan

Rugby Au

Reds playmaker James O’Connor will start for the Wallabies for the first time this year when the side take on Argentina in San Juan on Saturday afternoon (local time; 5:10am Sunday AEST).

O’Connor will wear the number 10 jersey and partner Nic White in the halves as the side look for back-to-back wins against Los Pumas to start their 2022 eToro Rugby Championship campaign.

Towering lock Rory Arnold will make his first appearance in the gold jersey this year, named in the starting second row alongside former Brumbies teammate Darcy Swain for the first time at Test level.

NSW Waratahs midfielder Lalakai Foketi has earned his first run-on at International level, where he’ll start at inside centre, partnering the fleet-footed Len Ikitau in the centres.

There’s also a change in the front row with Taniela Tupou set to start at tighthead prop, joining hooker Folau Fainga’a who had a notable outing in the side’s 41-25 win in Mendoza. Test centurion James Slipper will lead the side as the loosehead prop in the absence of Michael Hooper.

The backrow remains unchanged with last week’s debutant Jed Holloway to start at blindside flanker alongside Reds stalwart Fraser McReight at openside and Rob Valetini at number eight.

The ever-improving Jordan Petaia will again line up on the right wing, with powerhouse Marika Koroibete on the left edge. Tom Wright’s impressive first start at fullback rewarded with a second straight week in the number 15 jersey.

Rebels talent Pone Fa’amausili has been named to make his potential Test debut off the pine as the finishing tighthead prop, alongside club teammate Matt Gibbon as the reserve loosehead. The athletic Lachlan Lonergan has been named as replacement hooker.

Nick Frost’s Test career continues to grow, again named to cover the second row with the versatile Pete Samu able to provide support across the backrow.

Queensland captain Tate McDermott has been recalled and will bring energy as the finishing scrumhalf, while Irae Simone will be looking to add to his two Test caps, named in the Wallabies side for the first time since 2020. After an outstanding cameo at flyhalf last week Reece Hodge has again been named in the number 23 jersey.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “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 La and Irae who get to wear the Wallaby gold again on Saturday.”

“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.

“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.”

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Wallabies team to play Argentina at the Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan on Saturday 13 August, 4:10pm ART

  1. James Slipper (c) (118 Tests)
  2. Folau Fainga’a (29 Tests)
  3. Taniela Tupou (41 Tests)
  4. Rory Arnold (29 Tests)
  5. Darcy Swain (12 Tests)
  6. Jed Holloway (1 Test)
  7. Fraser McReight (3 Tests)
  8. Rob Valetini (22 Tests)
  9. Nic White (51 Tests)
  10. James O’Connor (63 Tests)
  11. Marika Koroibete (46 Tests)
  12. Lalakai Foketi (1 Test)
  13. Len Ikitau (16 Tests)
  14. Jordan Petaia (19 Tests)
  15. Tom Wright (13 Tests)
    Replacements
  16. Lachlan Lonergan (5 Tests)
  17. Matt Gibbon (1 Test)
  18. Pone Fa’amausili*
  19. Nick Frost (3 Tests)
  20. Pete Samu (23 Tests)
  21. Tate McDermott (16 Tests)
  22. Irae Simone (2 Tests)
  23. Reece Hodge (56 Tests)
    *denotes uncapped

2022 eToro Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Fixtures

Wallabies 41 defeated Argentina 26, Sunday 7 August at Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza

Wallabies v Argentina, Sunday 13 August, 5:10am AEST at Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan

Wallabies v South Africa, Saturday 27 August, 3:00pm ACST at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Wallabies v South Africa, Saturday 3 September, 7:30pm AEST at Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Wallabies v New Zealand, Thursday 15 September, 7:45pm AEST at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

Wallabies v New Zealand, Saturday 24 September, 5:05pm AEST at Eden Park, Auckland

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