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James O'Connor makes return to Wallabies after six year absence

By Online Editors
James O'Connor. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Playmaker Christian Lealiifano will make a remarkable return for the Wallabies on Saturday while James O’Connor is also set to make a comeback against Argentina in Brisbane.

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Playmaker Lealiifano will join Will Genia, Marika Koroibete and Kurtley Beale as additions to the starting backline just four Tests out from September’s World Cup in Japan.

The 31-year last played for the Wallabies in 2016 and has fought back to top form to earn a return following his battle with leukaemia.

O’Connor’s last Test was in 2013 and the reformed utility is poised to return off the bench at Suncorp Stadium as coach Michael Cheika continues to assess his World Cup options.

Samu Kerevi will again partner Tevita Kuridrani in the monster centre pairing used during last weekend’s loss to the Springboks in Johannesburg.

Beale replaces Tom Banks at fullback after his brilliant cameo off the bench at Ellis Park and lock Luke Jones has been named on the bench as he eyes his first Test since 2014.

Scott Sio returns from injury to start while fellow prop James Slipper has recovered from his nasty head knock against the Springboks and drops to the bench.

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Regular five eighth Bernard Foley has been left out of the match squad, with Matt Toomua providing cover off the bench.

Fellow squad members Joe Powell, Rob Valetini, Jack Maddocks and Jack Dempsey will all play club rugby this weekend.

Argentina came within a whisker of defeating New Zealand at home (20-16) last weekend and upset the Wallabies on the Gold Coast last year.

But victories like that have been rare for the Pumas, who are on the six-game losing streak and watched as Australia orchestrated their biggest comeback win in Test history against them in Salta last year.

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The Wallabies are also unbeaten in their last five starts at Suncorp Stadium.

Wallabies: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Chr istian Lealiifano, Will Genia, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (c), Lukhan Salakai-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Sekope Kepu, Folau Faingaa, Scot Sio. Reserves: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Luke Jones, Nic White, Matt Toomua, James O’Connor.

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