Wallabies vs Argentina, team news, Jed Holloway, Michael Cheika, Quade Cooper, video
As the Wallabies deal with the loss of Samu Kerevi for the year and the concussion of Dave Porecki, Dave Rennie plans to come on with an extra striker on his bench against the Pumas coached by Michael Cheika on Sunday (AEST).
Most Tests are won up front, but in Mendoza against a physical Los Pumas pack, which is likely to flood the front line in defense and set up a brick wall for the Wallabies to break, Rennie is likely to include six attackers on the bench and to enter. with only two backs.
If, indeed, Rennie chooses the extra striker, it would be a selection gamble given the miserable string of injury woes his side have had, but the Wallabies are preparing for a physical storm led by Pablo Matera.
If so, Waratahs striker Jed Holloway, who missed the series against England with a calf injury, is set to make his debut.
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Rennie is expected to recall Quade Cooper (calf) at fly-half and Jordan Petaia (concussion) at wing and Tom Wright moving to fullback, with Jake Gordon and Reece Hodge covering several positions off the bench.
As Rennie battled for the forwards in the Wallabies’ decisive series loss to England at SCG, Holloway’s return to full fitness, Darcy Swain’s return from suspension and Rory Arnold’s call-up gave the coach some decisions to ponder.
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Nick Frost’s excellent performance on his debut only added to the headache for the selection.
But in a Test the Wallabies can ill afford to drop, with Rennie’s winning percentage falling to 39 and a trophy up for grabs with the start of the Rugby League Swain is likely to partner Matt Philip in second tier , forcing Frost back to the bench. The Wallabies are likely to facilitate Japan-linked Arnold’s return to the squad after rushing him out following Cadeyrn Neville’s injury.
Holloway, who was expected to play at Perth until he suffered a calf injury in training, is preparing for a call-up as Rennie seeks extra muscle and another roster specialist.
His call should see Rob Leota selected alongside compatriot Pete Samu on the bench.
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While Folau Fainga’a will start with the No.2 shirt after Porecki, who started all three Tests against England, was ruled out with a concussion. His head shot will see Lachlan Lonergan come on the bench while Brumbies team-mate Billy Pollard flies to Argentina as injury cover.
Loose-headed prop injuries Angus Bell and Scott Sio will likely see Matt Gibbon come off the bench to make his debut as well.
Hunter Paisami is expected to get the nod in place of Kerevi, who received both tests against Argentina to play at the Commonwealth Games, and partner Len Ikitau in midfield.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ikitau said the team was just getting down to business and not letting the barrage of injuries affect them.
“It was quite disappointing for the boys who got injured,” he said.
“But for us, he’s the next man in terms of mentality and doing his job.”
While fans will be eager for home games later this month, the Wallabies can’t look past their back-to-back matches on Argentinian soil.
They will face an Argentina side who have their heads held high after a thrilling 2-1 win over Scotland, which gave Cheika a perfect start after replacing longtime right-hand man Mario Ledesma.
Unsurprisingly, Argentina haven’t kicked as much as in the past with Cheika in the coaching box.
The Wallabies have noticed this subtle change and are preparing accordingly.
“Obviously last year we played them (and) we won both games, but we know it’s a different type of team,” Ikitau said.
“We watched footage of them on how they counter. They don’t really kick as much as they have in recent years, but we know they’re going to be dangerous from all over the park.
The Wallabies will name their squad to face Argentina on Friday morning AEST.