It is back to the future again for these chameleon Wallabies of 2021.
After losing Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon from the spring tour in controversial circumstances, coach Dave Rennie has shored up his side with the French foreign legion of Rory Arnold, Kurtley Beale and Will Skelton.
2.08m, 120kg lock Arnold will start against Scotland at Murrayfield (1.15am Monday AEDT) while versatile back Beale and second row star Skelton will come off the bench in an intriguing matchup between the world’s No.3 and No.7 teams.
Watch the Scotland vs Australia rugby clash on Stan Sport – the home of the Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks spring tours. Start your seven day free trial here!
Arnold and Beale haven’t played for the Wallabies since the 2019 Rugby World Cup while Skelton last slipped a gold jersey onto his enormous frame way back in 2016.
Arnold and Skelton give Australia a massive upgrade in size, physicality and European know how while Beale is the ideal man to replace the injured Reece Hodge as an experienced backline Mr Fix It.
The caveat is the France-based trio have only had a week to get up to speed with new teammates and the Wallabies structures.
If that’s a concern for Rennie, he’s not letting on.
“To be able to call on the experience and quality of players like Rory, Kurtley and Will is really valuable for our group,” Rennie said.
“Those three guys have merged with the group seamlessly, worked hard on their detail this week and are super excited to earn another opportunity to represent their country.”
In other significant selection calls, Andrew Kellaway will start at fullback after the injuries to Hodge and Tom Banks.
Wingers Tom Wright and Jordan Petaia complete the back three with James O’Connor named to start his first Test of the year in the No.10 jersey.
Arnold will partner Izack Rodda and reprise the 2019 World Cup second row while Waratahs centre Izaia Perese is in line to make a long awaited Test debut from the bench.
”Izzy is someone who’s been on our radar for a little while now and has been impressive in training and deserves his chance,” said Rennie, the former Glasgow Warriors coach.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of players in the Scotland set up and we’ve prepared knowing how tough of a challenge it’s going to be at Murrayfield on Sunday.”
WALLABIES (15-1): Andrew Kellaway, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, James O’Connor, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper (c), Rob Leota, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper
Reserves: Connal McInerney, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Will Skelton, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Kurtley Beale, Izaia Perese