Tupou, Alaalatoa return as Foketi handed debut for final Test of 2021 against Wales

Thu, 18/11/2021, 08:14 pm
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has spoken to media on Zoom after announcing his side for the final Test of 2021 against Wales.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has confirmed props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa will make their return against Wales.

The pair come back into the side after missing the England defeat due to concussions, with Tupou set to start at tighthead prop as new captain James Slipper returns to loosehead.

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“It’s great to have Taniela and Allan back in the mix this week, they bring a level of experience that will be key for us against a tough Welsh team," Rennie said in a statement.

“Slips is hugely respected in our mob and a strong contributor to our leadership group. He was the obvious choice to lead us in the absence of Hoops." 

Meanwhile, Waratahs centre Lalakai Foketi is in line to become Wallaby 950 after being named on the bench.

"It's the balance of the bench. We're keen to have a specialist midfield cover and Lalakai's been excellent, made massive shifts," Rennie told reporters on Thursday.

"We've often talked about him around a position on the bench but based on what we needed it hasn't worked out.

"He's been really good so he gives us genuine cover. We feel like Tom (Wright) can cover the back three and Kurtley's been with the group for a while now so we're confident he can jump into ten and run the ship."

In further changes, Pete Samu has been named to replace Michael Hooper at openside, joining Rob Leota and Rob Valetini in the backrow.

Tolu Latu has been elevated to start at hooker as Rennie looks to make up for Hooper's influence over the ball.

“We’re keen to find out on a lot of these boys who have come in. He got a bit of a cameo last week. He’s trained very well and got his head around things and we think he’ll give us an edge physically, particularly with Hoops not playing,” he explained

“Having an on ball presence at two compliments what Pete Samu can bring us so that was a big part of the thinking.”

In the lone change to the starting backline, Flipo Daugunu will start on the wing alongside Andrew Kellaway, with Rennie admitting the Reds flyer was close to starting against England.

On the bench, Brumbies prop Folau Fainga’a will move back to the bench alongside Allan Alaalatoa, joined by returning backrower Lachie Swinton.

"We’ve made some great shifts this year, but we’ve been disappointed with our performances in the last two Tests and we’ll be looking to ensure we finish the year on a positive note against Wales on Saturday night," Rennie added.

Wallabies team to play Wales at Principality Stadium, Cardiff on Saturday 20 November, 5:30pm GMT/4:30am AEDT (Sunday)

1. James Slipper (c) (113 Tests)

2. Tolu Latu (20 Tests)

3. Taniela Tupou (37 Tests)

4. Rory Arnold (28 Tests)

5. Izack Rodda (33 Tests)

6. Rob Leota (5 Tests)

7. Pete Samu (18 Tests)

8. Rob Valetini (17 Tests)

9. Nic White (46 Tests)

10. James O’Connor (60 Tests)

11. Filipo Daugunu (6 Tests)

12. Hunter Paisami (13 Tests)

13. Len Ikitau (12 Tests)

14. Andrew Kellaway (12 Tests)

15. Kurtley Beale (94 Tests)

Replacements 

16. Folau Fainga’a (24 Tests)

17. Angus Bell (15 Tests)

18. Allan Alaalatoa (52 Tests)

19. Will Skelton (20 Tests)

20. Lachlan Swinton (6 Tests)

21. Tate McDermott (14 Tests)

22. Lalakai Foketi*

23. Tom Wright (9 Tests)

*denotes uncapped

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