Lolesio, Simone to debut for injury-hit Wallabies against NZ
Flyhalf Noah Lolesio and center Irae Simone will play surprise tests for an injured Australian team in the third rugby test of the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand on Saturday.
20-year-old Lolesio got an unexpected start in a must-win test for the Wallabies after James O’Connor was disfellowshipped with a knee injury. Lolesio's Brumbies team-mate Simone is also coming as an injury replacement, replacing injured veteran midfielder Matt To’omua.
Head coach Dave Rennie named four players in his 23 for the game Australia must win to keep the four-game series alive. Queensland Reds backrower Fraser McReight and scrum half Tate McDermott have been inducted, expected to debut from the bank.
"It's really exciting to have four more debutants on the squad this week," said Rennie. "Noah and Irae have played a lot of footy together and we have no doubt that they are ready to take the rugby test.
"Tate and Fraser have had great super rugby seasons and have impressed in training over the last month."
In other changes, Allan Alaalatoa will start at the prop before Taniela Tupou, and Dane Haylett-Perry will take on Tom Banks as defender.
Lolesio helped lead the Brumbies to the Australian super rugby title in their season and showed serenity under pressure in the final. Considered a player in the testing class, his debut was accelerated by O'Connor's injury.
Meanwhile, hillbilly Hoskins Sotutu will be starting a test for the first time after scoring in New Zealand's XV.
Sotutu came off the bench in the series' first two Tests and made his debut in the Wellington Drawn Test.
He will start at the end of the scrum in place of Ardie Savea, who is absent on paternity leave. Sotutu is the son of former Fiji international Waisake Sotutu and one of four All Blacks who made their test debut in the current series.
Veteran Sam Whitelock returns from a head injury and Karl Tu’inukuafe takes on Joe Moody's loosehead prop on other changes to the team that won the second Test 27-7 in Auckland. Moody had a concussion on the second test and is still on head injury logs.
The backline remains unchanged and the strong youngster Caleb Clarke starts again on the left wing. Dalton Papalii, a backrower with three tests, sits on the bench with Center Ngani Laumape.
New Zealand will keep the Bledisloe Cup, which it has hosted since 2002, if it wins on Saturday. Australia must win to keep the series alive before the final test in Brisbane on November 7th.
"It's the third test in a series of four tests and the Bledisloe Cup is coming up," said head coach Ian Foster. "It's a real chance for us to come to their home ground, a place that they are very proud of and for a trophy that means a lot to them and we have to show them how much it means to us." The chance of winning a trophy that is valuable to us is exciting.
“None of our players, not even our experienced players, had to win the cup in Australia. In the past the decisive game was always in New Zealand so I think it's a big challenge for us. "
Australia: Dane Haylett-Petty, Filipo Daugunu, Jordan Petaia, Irae Simone, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (captain), Ned Hanigan, Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Allan Alaalatoa, Brandon Paenga -Amosa, James Slipper. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott, Reece Hodge and Hunter Paisami.
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Goodhue, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Dane Coles, Karl Tu'inukuafe. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Scott Barrett, Dalton Papalii, T.J. Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Rieko Ioane.
AP sports journalist Dennis Passa was from Brisbane, Australia.
Other AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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