Australia coach Dave Rennie has recalled experienced prop Scott Sio for the Tri-Nations clash against Argentina, among one of three changes to the starting side.
The 66-Test Sio was omitted for the Wallabies’ 24-22 win over the All Blacks in Brisbane earlier this month but comes back in as replacement for injured loosehead James Slipper.
Sio beats out Angus Bell for the starting spot, with the young prop remaining on the bench after making his Test debut at Suncorp Stadium.
“After being left out in our last Test we got the reaction we expected from Scott, his preparation this week has been excellent and his experience will be invaluable against Argentina,” Rennie said.
Tighthead prop Taniela Tupou replaces the benched Allan Alaalatoa in a recalibrated front row, while the versatile Ned Hanigan starts at blindside flanker in place of the suspended Lachie Swinton.
The win over the All Blacks was Australia’s first in four Tests under Rennie, and he has left his backline unchanged for the Pumas, who claimed a stunning 25-15 win over the All Blacks in Sydney in their first match of the Tri-Nations last week.
“As a group, we know respect is earned daily and understand the importance of backing up our last performance with another quality effort on Saturday night,” said Rennie.
“The tournament is evenly poised and our fate is in our own hands. We saw how much passion Argentina play with in their performance last weekend and we’re excited by the challenge in Newcastle.”
Rennie has made a couple of changes to his bench, with two-Test Brumbies forward Rob Valetini coming in as cover for the second and back row. New South Wales Waratahs’ Jake Gordon has been included as backup scrumhalf for Nic White.
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma has kept faith with the players who beat the All Blacks for the first time last Saturday, making no changes to his starting line-up.
The Pumas stunned the rugby world with their 25-15 victory in their first Test for more than a year and Ledesma has restricted himself to tweaking his bench for Saturday’s match at Hunter Stadium.
Bulldozing blindside flanker Pablo Matera will again captain the side and the experienced Nicolas Sanchez retains the No 10 shirt after scoring all of Argentina’s points against the All Blacks at Bankwest Stadium.
In the replacements, Santiago Socino replaces Facundo Bosch as back-up for starting hooker Julian Montoya, while Toulon’s Facundo Isa looks set to win his first cap since August 2019 after being named as back row cover instead of Tomas Lezana.
Lucio Cinti, who failed to get on the pitch to win his first cap last week, drops out of the matchday squad with Emiliano Boffelli covering for the outside backs and potentially offering a long-range kicking option.
The Tri-Nations replaced the Rugby Championship this year after world champions South Africa withdrew and Argentina’s win last week blew open the race for the title. A win for either side on Saturday will move them above New Zealand to the top of the standings.
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-Ned Hanigan, 5-Matt Philip, 4-Rob Simmons, 3-Taniela Tupou, 2-Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1-Scott Sio. Replacements: 16-Folau Fainga’a, 17-Angus Bell, 18-Allan Alaalatoa, 19-Rob Valetini, 20-Liam Wright, 21-Jake Gordon, 22-Noah Lolesio, 23-Filipo Daugunu.
Argentina: 15-Santiago Carreras, 14-Bautista Delguy, 13-Matias Orlando, 12-Santiago Chocobares, 11-Juan Imhoff, 10-Nicolas Sanchez, 9-Tomas Cubelli, 8-Rodrigo Bruni, 7-Marcos Kremer, 6-Pablo Matera (captain), 5-Matias Alemanno, 4-Guido Petti, 3-Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2-Julian Montoya, 1-Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo. Replacements: 16-Santiago Socino, 17-Mayco Vivas, 18-Santiago Medrano, 19-Santiago Grondona, 20-Facundo Isa, 21-Gonzalo Bertranou, 22-Emiliano Boffelli, 23-Santiago Cordero.