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Eddie Jones makes surprise selection in Wallabies team for Georgia

By Finn Morton
Ben Donaldson and Carter Gordon during the Australia Wallabies Official Rugby World Cup Welcome Ceremony ahead of the Rugby World Cup France 2023, on September 01, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Two days out from the Wallabies’ opening Test of the Rugby World Cup, coach Eddie Jones has swung a surprise selection call with utility Ben Donaldson named to start at fullback.


Donaldson, 24, has only played three Test matches in Wallaby gold, which includes just a single appearance under coach Jones this year – coming off the bench against France two weeks.

But Donaldson is another goal-kicking option for the Wallabies, which may be music to the ears of their supporters as flyhalf Carter Gordon continues to struggle for form.

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The Wallabies have lost all five Test matches this year, and they’ll be desperate to turn their fortunate around against Georgia at Stade de France on Saturday.

Coach Jones has turned to an inexperienced side for their World Cup opener, with the team boasting the fewest total Test caps – 343 across the board – for an Australian team at a World Cup since their pool play clash with Namibia in 2003.

Including the likes of Donaldson and Gordon, 17 of the 23 players in the matchday squad are set to make their World Cup debuts this weekend.

“The Rugby World Cup is the biggest stage in the world and the players can see the opportunity that’s ahead of them over the next eight weeks,” coach Jones said in a statement.


“With the youngest team at the Rugby World Cup, the excitement level in the group is high and we’ve had a good preparation for the tournament working hard on our game.

“All 20 teams are at the starting line now and it’s important we get off to a fast start against Georgia on Saturday night.”

The Wallabies are nearly a full-strength for this clash with Georgia, and have named a relatively same side compared to the one picked to play Les Bleus two weeks ago.

Prop Angus Bell joins David Porecki and Taniela Tupou in an unchanged front row, with Tupou set to make his 50th appearance in Wallaby gold.


The gigantic second-row duo of Richie Arnold and Will Skelton will add a sense of physicality and fury to the Aussies’ pack. They’ll be joined by loose forwards Tom Hooper, Fraser McReight and Rob Valetini.

Vice-captain Tate McDermott will link up with young Carter Gordon in the halves again, but they’ll be boosted by the return of world-class talent Samu Kerevi at inside centre.

Kerevi is one of the three changes to the Wallabies’ backline along with the return of Marika Koroibete and the inclusion of Donaldson.

Jordan Petaia and Mark Nawaqanitawase will line up at No. 13 and 14 respectively.

The match between Australia and Georgia at the Rugby World Cup kicks off at 6.00 pm CET / 2.00 am at Stade de France in Paris.

Wallabies team to play Georgia

  1. Angus Bell
  2. David Porecki
  3. Taniela Tupou
  4. Richie Arnold
  5. Will Skelton (c)
  6. Tom Hooper
  7. Fraser McReight
  8. Rob Valetini
  9. Tate McDermott
  10. Carter Gordon
  11. Marika Koroibete
  12. Samu Kerevi
  13. Jordan Petaia
  14. Mark Nawaqanitawase
  15. Ben Donaldson


  1. Matt Faessler
  2. Blake Schoupp
  3. Zane Nonggorr
  4. Rob Leota
  5. Langi Gleeson
  6. Nic White
  7. Lalakai Foketi
  8. Suliasi Vunivalu


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