Reece Hodge was recalled to start at fullback to deal with an expected aerial assault from world champions South Africa on Saturday as Australia coach Dave Rennie rang the changes.
The 57-Test utility Hodge was handed the No 15 jersey in place of Tom Wright after the Wallabies’ struggles under the high ball in a demoralising defeat to Argentina in San Juan last weekend.
Hodge was one of six changes to the side that lost 48-17 with Wright shifting back to the right wing and Marika Koroibete on his familiar left for the Rugby Championship clash in Adelaide.
Noah Lolesio was handed another chance in the problematic playmaker position with Quade Cooper injured and James O’Connor axed from the squad altogether after starting in last week’s defeat.
The 22-year-old Lolesio was used by Rennie in all three Tests against England this year but then made way for Cooper, with O’Connor preferred last week.
Veteran No 10 Bernard Foley, who hasn’t played for the Wallabies since the 2019 World Cup but was a shock recall to the squad last week, failed to make the match-day 23.
Reece Hodge during a Wallabies training session. (Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)
“It’s great to have a number of experienced players back in the mix this weekend,” said Rennie.
“We understand that respect is earned daily and we get an opportunity to earn it against the current world champions on Saturday afternoon.”
Nic White is again the scrumhalf, with inside centre Hunter Paisami returning to the starting team in place of Lalakai Foketi, reigniting his midfield combination with Len Ikitau.
After leaving Argentina early for a family bereavement, Allan Alaalatoa is back at tighthead prop alongside returning hooker Folau Fainga’a and 119-Test veteran James Slipper.
Slipper skippers the side again in the absence of Michael Hooper, who is on mental health leave.
Matt Philip replaces Darcy Swain to pair with Rory Arnold in the run-on second row with the backrow of Jed Holloway, Fraser McReight and Rob Valetini unchanged.
“It’s really motivating to be back at home in front of our supporters, especially in Adelaide, a place we haven’t played at in 18 years,” said Rennie.
Saturday’s Test kicks off at 07:30 (SA time).
15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Substitutes: 16 David Porecki, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Tate McDermott, 23 Andrew Kellaway
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Warrick Gelant, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kisthoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn