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Jake Gordon beats Tate McDermott in race for Wallabies No. 9 jersey

By AAP
(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Jake Gordon has won the race to wear the vacant Wallabies halfback jersey after overcoming a knee injury ahead of the opening test against France in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

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With regular No. 9 Nic White out injured, Queensland’s Tate McDermott looked in line for a starting test debut on home turf at Suncorp Stadium.

But coach Dave Rennie instead opted for the mature head of Gordon, who will turn 28 on game eve.

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The NSW Waratahs No.9 injured his knee in the penultimate game of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, putting the three-test France series in severe doubt.

It was a big blow for the halfback, who was in career-best form.

But he recovered more quickly than expected to earn his second Test start, after being in the XV to face Italy in Padua on Australia’s spring tour in 2018, winning 26-7.

It will be Gordon’s sixth test cap.

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Rennie will confirm the rest of his line-up at 12.30pm AEST, with the biggest question mark over who will partner Gordon in the halves.

Reds playmaker James O’Connor is set to be ruled out with a groin injury paving the way for Rebel Reece Hodge to make his third start in the No. 10 jersey or 21-year-old Noah Lolesio.

The Brumbies young gun made his test debut at five-eighth last year against the All Blacks in an unhappy outing with the Wallabies pummelled 43-5.

Veteran Matt Toomua is also expected to be ruled out with a neck injury, with a new centre pairing set to be named.

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There is competition for a back row spot too, with Harry Wilson and Rob Valetini paired together at their locked-down Gold Coast training base after waging war for the Reds and Brumbies respectively this season.

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