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White and Slipper earn Wallabies recalls, no place for O’Connor

Nic White and James Slipper will make their long-awaited returns for Australia in their Rugby Championship opener against South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday, but there is no place for James O’Connor.

Exeter Chiefs scrum-half White became eligible for his country once again earlier in 2019 after agreeing a new deal with Rugby Australia and is now set to make his first Wallabies appearance since August 2015.

Former captain Slipper, who last played an international in 2016, will also make his comeback, the prop having returned to form with the Brumbies after suffering from depression and testing positive for cocaine last year.

Isi Naisarani is set to make his Wallabies debut at number eight and front-rower Harry Johnson-Holmes – a late call-up to the squad amid injury issues – could come off the bench to earn a first cap.

However, versatile back O’Connor, who rejoined the Reds earlier this week, will have to wait for his first international appearance since 2013, with Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi preferred in the centres.

Tom Banks starts at full-back ahead of Kurtley Beale, while hooker Jordan Uelese is set to make his third Test appearance off the bench, almost two years after his second.

“This is an opportunity for our team. We really want to begin building momentum to take us towards our goals in 2019,” said Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika.

“The players are impatient to play at Ellis Park where our Wallabies haven’t had an opportunity to play for quite a while.”

 

Australia team to face South Africa: Tom Banks, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Reece Hodge, Bernard Foley, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani.

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Jack Dempsey, Will Genia, Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale.

KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta

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