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11 changes for Wallabies, including first Skelton start since 2016

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Geoffrey van der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images)

Dave Rennie has named a Wallabies team to take on Italy on Saturday that shows eleven changes from last Saturday’s agonising one-point loss to France in Paris. Lock Nick Frost and three backs – left winger Tom Wright, midfielder Len Ikitau and full-back Jock Campbell – are the four repeat selections from the 29-30 Stade de France defeat.

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With Allan Alaalatoa becoming the 85th Wallabies captain of all-time when he leads the team out in Florence, Rennie has gone with a much-changed lineup that includes a debut cap for right wing Mark Nawaqanitawase.

Will Skelton has also earned his first Test start since June 2016 against England, joining Frost in the second row with bench cover being provided by Darcy Swain, who is returning from his six-match suspension. Another notable name on the bench is the uncapped Ben Donaldson.

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Wallabies boss Rennie said: “Allan is a great man and an exceptional leader. There was a massive roar in the team room when he was named captain this week and that shows the respect and standing he has within the group.

“Mark and Ben have both had outstanding seasons for the Waratahs and Australia A and they are both excited for what is an extremely proud moment for them and their families.

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“We always knew a gruelling five-Test end-of-year tour would require a full squad effort. We made nine changes after the win over Scotland and planned a similar number for Italy but injuries have increased that by a couple.

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“Kieran Crowley is an excellent coach and Italy have made significant progress this year. They are coming off a massive win over Samoa last weekend and beat Wales in the Six Nations, so we are under no illusions of the challenge that is in front of us.”

Wallabies (vs Italy, Saturday)
1. Matt Gibbon (4 Tests)
2. Folau Fainga’a (35 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (c) (61 Tests)
4. Nick Frost (7 Tests)
5. Will Skelton (22 Tests)
6. Ned Hanigan (26 Tests)
7. Fraser McReight (8 Tests)
8. Pete Samu (30 Tests)
9. Jake Gordon (17 Tests)
10. Noah Lolesio (15 Tests)
11. Tom Wright (20 Tests)
12. Hunter Paisami (22 Tests)
13. Len Ikitau (23 Tests)
14. Mark Nawaqanitawase (uncapped)
15. Jock Campbell (2 Tests)

Replacements:
16. Lachlan Lonergan (6 Tests)
17. Tom Robertson (28 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (45 Tests)
19. Darcy Swain (16 Tests)
20. Langi Gleeson (1 Test)
21. Tate McDermott (19 Tests)
22. Ben Donaldson (uncapped)
23. Jordan Petaia (22 Tests)

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