Rugby Championship

Wallabies to unleash 'Tongan Thor' on Springboks

2018-09-27 14:28
Taniela Tupou (Getty Images)
Taniela Tupou (Getty Images)

Port Elizabeth - Skipper Michael Hooper returns as Australia made four changes for their Rugby Championship clash with South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

WATCH: Springboks to honour Nelson Mandela in Port Elizabeth

The flank was a late injury-related withdrawal from the Wallabies team beaten 23-19 at home by Argentina two weeks ago - their third loss in four Championship Tests this season.

Hooper takes over the captaincy and loose forward roles of David Pocock, who switches to number eight in place of injured Pete Samu.

In another back-row change, Ned Hanigan comes in on the other flank for Lukhan Tui, who did not travel after an ugly spat with a supporter after the Gold Coast beating by the Pumas.

Tui requested a break from international rugby following the recent death of his stepfather and the altercation with a spectator, who pushed a sister of the Wallaby after the Test.

Lock Adam Coleman replaces Rory Arnold and tighthead prop Taniela Tupou will make his run-on debut with Allan Alaalatoa dropping to the bench. 

Scott Sio is set to win his 50th cap on the opposite side of the front row for the Test at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in the coastal city.

Coach Michael Cheika kept faith with flyhalf Kurtley Beale and scrum-half Will Genia amid media calls for playmaker Bernard Foley to start instead of being on the bench.

Australia beat South Africa 23-18 in Brisbane this month, but lie last in the Championship standings with only five points from a possible 20.

Trophy-holders and world champions New Zealand have 16 points, South Africa 10 and Argentina eight with two rounds to go in the southern hemisphere tournament.

Tradition is against the Wallabies this weekend as they have drawn one and lost four of five Championship matches in the republic.

In fact, Australia haven’t tasted victory in South Africa since 2011, but did earn a draw in the country last year, when the sides fought to a 27-all stalemate in Bloemfontein.

Saturday’s clash will be the first meeting between the two sides in Port Elizabeth since 1963, when South Africa won 22-6.


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse


15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Rob Simmons, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddocks


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