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O'Connor among a mass of Wallabies changes for Pumas

By AAP
(Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Veteran James O’Connor will start at five-eighth among a raft of changes to the Wallabies following another disrupted build-up ahead of their second Rugby Championship Test against Argentina.

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The Australians will take on the wounded Pumas in San Juan on Sunday morning (AEST) looking to back up last week’s 41-26 victory.

Leading up to that opening Test they lost skipper Michael Hooper (mental health) and hooker Dave Porecki (concussion) while veteran playmaker Quade Cooper ruptured his Achilles during the game.

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Ahead of this clash Hunter Paisami has been ruled out after a head knock, with Wallabies coach Dave Rennie naming Waratahs centre Lalakai Foketi for his second Test appearance.

He will start at 12, with Len Ikitau returning at outside centre.

The inexperience of Foketi has led Rennie to opt for the cool head of 63-Test veteran O’Connor ahead of youngster Noah Lolesio, who wore the 10 jersey through the recent England series.

Prop Alla n Alaalatoa became the fourth member from the Wallabies squad to fly home from Argentina following a family bereavement, with Taniela Tupou the starting tighthead.

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“Giteau’s Law” choice Rory Arnold, who has been based in France, will have his first start of the year in the second row, replacing Matt Philip.

Giant Melbourne enforcer Pone Fa’amausili has been named to make his Test debut from the bench.

Irae Simone, who was a late call-up to the squad and will head to France following the two-Test tour of Argentina, has been named on the bench for his third Test with Rennie adding an additional back.

Wallabies: Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, James O’Connor, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Jed Holloway, Darcy Swain, Rory Arnold, Taniela Tupou, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper (c). Res: Lachlan Lonergan, Matt Gibbon; Pone Fa’amausili, Nick Frost, Pete Samu; Tate McDermott, Irae Simone, Reece Hodge.

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3 Comments
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Richard 708 days ago

O'Connor's reward for costing Australia the 2nd test vs England is to be picked ahead of Lolesio?

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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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