Wallabies unchanged for Argentina clash

By , Darren Walton is a Roar Guru

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    Michael Cheika has revealed his World Cup hand as the Wallabies chase a successful conclusion to an otherwise rollercoaster Rugby Championship campaign.

    Cheika has named an unchanged starting XV for the first time in his three-year, 40-Test tenure for Sunday’s dead rubber against Argentina in Mendoza.

    While there’s no silverware on offer for the two sides, the Wallabies coach is urging his charges to step up in the countdown to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

    With less than two years remaining before the global showpiece, it’s more than halfway through the World Cup cycle and Cheika admits “it’s about now” that he’s seeking selection stability after introducing 11 newcomers to the Test arena in 2017.

    “I said before this campaign, the Rugby Championship, that the base is here now,” he said after naming the same run-on side that drew 27-27 with South Africa last weekend in Bloemfontein.

    The frustrating stalemate followed a 23-23 drew with the Springboks in Perth, a last-minute 35-29 loss to the All Blacks in Dunedin and 54-34 defeat at the hands of the rampant world champions in the tournament opener in Sydney.

    Australia’s only victory in the championship was a 45-20 win over the Pumas in Canberra, after they trailed 13-10 at halftime.

    With one match remaining, Cheika has given the Wallabies a pass mark but wants further improvement ahead of their third Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks in Brisbane in a fortnight.

    “It’s been strange. We started off the first 40 minutes (of the Rugby Championship) really poorly and since then we’ve been more than competitive,” he said.

    “Players are improving and we’ve got fitter, so we’re able to compete in games for longer and I’m pleased with the progression.

    “I would like to obviously have another couple of wins but I’m pleased with the progression considering where we started off in June and we’re looking to improve more before the year’s out.”

    After making a raft of changes before Australia’s last outing, Cheika has retained faith in his three starting debutants from Bloemfontein — winger Marika Koroibete, flanker Jack Dempsey and second-rower Izack Rodda.

    Lock Lukhan Tui has kept his bench spot after making his Wallabies debut against the Sprinboks.

    Prop Tetera Faulkner earns a recall three years after playing his second Test on the 2014 spring tour of Europe, in Cheika’s first month at the helm.

    Faulkner replaces Tom Robertson on the bench, with Ned Hanigan relegated as the Wallabies instead opt for winger Henry Speight as a backline replacement option.

    Wallabies team to face Argentina

    Israel Folau
    Marika Koroibete
    Tevita Kuridrani
    Kurtley Beale
    Reece Hodge
    Bernard Foley
    Will Genia
    Sean McMahon
    Michael Hooper (capt)
    Jack Dempsey
    Adam Coleman
    Izack Rodda
    Sekope Kepu
    Tatafu Polota-Nau
    Scott Sio

    Reserves: Stephen Moore, Tetera Faulkner, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Tui, Nick Phipps, Samu Kerevi, Henry Speight.

    © AAP 2017