Will Skelton to lead ‘ambitious’ Wallabies side against France
The Wallabies have started their new dawn under coach Eddie Joens with four losses from as many starts this year, but the Aussies will be desperate to turn that around against Les Bleus.
Led by star halfback Antoine Dupont, Les Bleus have been one of the form teams in Test rugby over the last four years – and they’re among the favourites to hoist the Webb Ellis Cup, if not the favourite.
On paper, it appears to be quite a daunting task for the Wallabies – but rugby isn’t played on paper. Coach Joens has picked a young matchday 23, and they’ll be full of belief going into the Test.
Captain Skelton will lead the new-look Wallabies side out onto the field at Stade de France, with 12 players in the matchday squad having played less than 10 Tests in their careers so far.
“We’ve had an impressive preparation for the Rugby World Cup this week,” coach Jones said in a statement.
“Improving our physical capacity has been a priority and our rugby fitness is rapidly improving and we will look to use it against France.
“To play against the tournament hosts in front of a massive crowd at the venue for the final is perfect preparation for us.
“We are a young side, who is ambitious and in the process of developing our game.”
Angus Bell will line up at loosehead prop alongside David Porecki and Taniela Tupou. That’s quite an all-star front-row, especially with Tupou – aka the Tongan Thor – returning from injury.
Coach Jones has named a familiar-looking backrow, with young guns Tom Hooper and Fraser McReight set to start on the flanks, and Rob Valetini at No. 8. This is the same loose forward trio that almost took down the All Blacks in Dunedin.
Lalakai Foketi will run out in Wallaby gold for the first time since last year’s Test match at the same venue. In that clash with Les Bleus, Foketi scored a World Rugby Try of the Year contender.
Black Schoupp and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa are both in line to make their Test debuts off the bench.
This match is set to get underway at Stade de France in Paris at 5.45 pm on Sunday, or 1.45 am on Monday for those watching on Stan Sport back in Australia.
Wallabies team to take on France
- Angus Bell
- David Porecki
- Taniela Tupou
- Richie Arnold
- Will Skelton (c)
- Tom Hooper
- Fraser McReight
- Rob Valetini
- Tate McDermott
- Carter Gordon
- Suliasi Vunivalu
- Lalakai Foketi
- Jordan Petaia
- Mark Nawaqanitawase
- Andrew Kellaway
- Matt Faessler
- Blake Schoupp*
- Zane Nonggorr
- Matt Philip
- Rob Leota
- Langi Gleeson
- Issak Fines-Leleiwasa*
- Ben Donaldson