Dynamic prop Taniela Tupou has been promoted to start for the Wallabies as they aim to wrap up the series with victory over France in Tuesday’s second Test in Melbourne.How best to use Tupou’s unique abilities in each Test has become one of Australian rugby’s great selection debates: not quite on the David Pocock/Michael Hooper, George Smith/Phil Waugh or George Gregan/Chris Whitaker level but on its way.
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Date: Tuesday, July 13
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne
Kick-off: 20.00 (12.00 French time; 10.00 GMT)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. High of 14°C and a
Jake Gordon retains the No.9 jersey after an indifferent performance in his first game back from a significant knee injury.
Rennie rates Gordon’s passing and kicking game as superior to McDermott’s.
Five-eighth James O’Connor remains sidelined with a groin injury as Rennie kept the same 23 intact for the first time in his Wallabies coaching tenure.
AUSTRALIA XV: Tom Banks; Tom Wright, Hunter Paisami, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete; Noah Lolesio, Jake Gordon; Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (captain), Rob Valetini; Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Matt Phillip; Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper.
Replacements: Lachlan Lonergan, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Darcy Swain, Isi Naisarani, Tate McDermott, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway.
FRANCE XV: Melvyn Jaminet; Damian Penaud, Arthur Vincent, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere; Louis Carbonel, Baptiste Couilloud; Anthony Jelonch (captain), Cameron Woki, Ibrahim Diallo, Cyril Cazeaux, Pierre-Henri Azagoh, Wilfrid Hounkpatin, Gaetan Barlot, Jean-Baptiste Gros.
Replacements: Anthony Etrillard, Enzo Forletta, Demba Bamba, Killian Geraci, Romain Taofifenua, Sekou Macalou, Teddy Iribaren, Anthony Bouthier.
With veteran playmaker James O’Connor again ruled out injured, the game-day 23 is the same for the first time in consecutive Tests since Rennie took charge last year.
The New Zealander, who is looking for the team to wrap up the series ahead of a return to Brisbane for the final Test on Saturday, said they deserved another chance.
Players to watch
For Australia: The Wallaby coach, Rennie, is backing last week’s combination to wrap up the series on Tuesday. Powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou has been promoted to start in place of Allan Alaalatoa in the starting XV. Alaalatoa drops to the bench, with Rennie picking the same game-day 23 for the first time in consecutive Tests since taking charge last year. Players who will look to improve on last week’s showing include centres Hunter Paisami and Matt Toomua, while rookie flyhalf Noah Lolesio will also the spotlight on him again. Captain Michael Hooper came good in the second half last week and will look to build on that.
For France: France coach Fabien Galthie has made five charges to his starting team, with three of them – Wilfrid Hounkpatin, Pierre-Henri Azagoh and Ibrahim Diallo- making their international debuts. Prop Demba Bamba has lost his place in the starting line-up to Castres’ Hounkpatin. The second row is completely changed – with Killian Geraci, Romain Taofifenua sitting on the bench for Cyril Cazeaux and Stade Francais youngster Azagoh. Flank Cameron Woki replaces Dylan Cretin, who was ruled out with an ankle injury.