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Michael Cheika has named a new-look prop pairing for the second Bledisloe Cup game at Eden Park this weekend, with Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa to start in the front row against the All Blacks.
After the Wallabies’ scrum and lineout struggled considerably in Bledisloe 1, Cheika has recalled Sio to the side, after the prop missed the encounter with a shoulder injury, while Alaalatoa has been promoted from his bench role in Game 1.
Last week’s starting pair, Sekope Kepu and Tom Robertson, have both been moved to the bench, while Jerome Ainsley has dropped out of the side entirely.
While Sio has overcome injury to line up in Game 2, Taniela Tupou has had no such luck. The barnstorming prop was a late withdrawal last Saturday with a hamstring injury and has not been named in the squad for Eden Park.
Also missing through injury is Israel Folau, who hobbled off ANZ Stadium midway through the second half last week with an ankle injury. In addition to the reshuffle up front, Dane Haylett-Petty will slot into fullback for Folau, with Jack Maddocks taking the vacant starting spot on the wing after earning his first Test cap in Bledisloe 1.
Tatafu Polota-Nau has kept his spot as starting hooker despite the Wallabies’ woeful lineout performance in Sydney, but back-up Tolu Latu has been dropped. Folau Faingaa will make his debut off the bench in the no.16 jersey in Latu’s place.
Hooker Faingaa is one of two uncapped reserves, with his ACT Brumbies teammate Tom Banks also in line for a first appearance for Australia after being named in the no.23 jersey.
The remainder of the side is unchanged. Izack Rodda and Adam Coleman will lock the scrum, and Cheika has persisted with the same back row of Lukhan Tui at 6, captain Michael Hooper at 7 and David Pocock at 8.
All of Will Genia, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge and Marika Koroibete have retained their places in the backline, as have Nick Phipps and Matt Toomua on the bench.
Rob Simmons and Pete Samu are the other reserves.
1. Scott Sio (46 Tests)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (83 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (24 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (8 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (24 Tests)
6. Lukhan Tui (8 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (83 Tests)
8. David Pocock (70 Tests)
9. Will Genia (91 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (59 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (12 Tests)
12. Kurtley Beale (75 Tests)
13. Reece Hodge (28 Tests)
14. Jack Maddocks (1 Test)
15. Dane Haylett-Petty (22 Tests)
16. Folau Faingaa*
17. Tom Robertson (22 Tests)
18. Sekope Kepu (95 Tests)
19. Rob Simmons (86 Tests)
20. Pete Samu (4 Tests)
21. Nick Phipps (65 Tests)
22. Matt Toomua (34 Tests)
23. Tom Banks*
Earlier, Steve Hansen made just two injury-enforced changes to the All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup team, bringing Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape into the run-on side in place of Reiko Ioane (hamstring) and Ryan Crotty (concussion).
Ben Smith has shifted from fullback to the wing to accommodate Barrett, while Laumape’s inclusion means Anton Lienert-Brown stays on the bench. The rest of the New Zealand side has remained unchanged.
Bledisloe 2 will kick-off at 5:35pm (AEST) this Saturday at Auckland’s Eden Park, with the third trans-Tasman Test not scheduled until October.