Hunter Paisami returns for Wallabies with Samu Kerevi ruled out of Japan Test
- Kerevi fails to recover from ankle injury suffered against Argentina
- Tom Wright replaces Jordan Petaia on wing for game in Oita
Hunter Paisami has been recalled for Australia’s Test against Japan, replacing Samu Kerevi at inside centre after the explosive midfielder failed to overcome an ankle injury for Saturday’s clash in Oita.
Tom Wright has replaced Jordan Petaia on the wing after a lively cameo off the bench in the 32-17 win over Argentina on the Gold Coast three weeks ago.
Rob Leota slots in at blindside flanker, pushing Pete Samu onto the bench, while lock Matt Philip has been promoted to partner with Izack Rodda in the second row in the other change to Dave Rennie’s starting XV.
“While it’s disappointing for Samu [Kerevi] not to be able to play in Japan, Hunter started the first five Tests this year prior to the birth of his daughter and is champing at the bit for another opportunity,” Rennie said.
ACT Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney will hope to make his Test debut off the bench, having replaced Lachlan Lonergan as Rennie continues to experiment with players in the Wallabies’ most vexing position.
“Connal’s strong set piece and all-around game has earned him a chance to represent his country, which is a proud moment for him and his family,” said Rennie.
Tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa returns to the matchday squad in place of Greg Holmes.
Australia will bid for a fifth straight win on Saturday after finishing the Rugby Championship with back-to-back victories over both the Pumas and world champions South Africa.
“We’ve got a huge amount of respect for the Brave Blossoms who are now competitive with the best sides in the world,” said Rennie of Japan. “We’ll need to be at our best.”
Team: 15-Reece Hodge, 14-Tom Wright, 13-Len Ikitau, 12-Hunter Paisami, 11-Andrew Kellaway, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Nic White, 8-Rob Valetini, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Rob Leota, 5-Matt Philip, 4-Izack Rodda, 3-Taniela Tupou, 2-Folau Fainga’a, 1-James Slipper. Replacements: 16-Connal McInerney, 17-Angus Bell, 18-Allan Alaalatoa, 19-Darcy Swain, 20-Pete Samu, 21-Tate McDermott, 22-James O’Connor, 23-Jordan Petaia.