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With the Wallabies faced with a dearth of options at outside centre, Israel Folau has been named in the number 13 jersey for third and final Bledisloe Cup clash of the year.
With Reece Hodge breaking his ankle less than a week ago, ruling him out for the rest of the year, Tevita Kuridrani still unavailable through injury and Samu Kerevi desperately short of match fitness, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has had little choice but to turn to regular outside back Folau to fill the gap at 13.
Folau has started his last few Tests on the wing having previously been a constant presence at fullback, but regularly pops up in the midfield for the Wallabies and has worn the 13 jersey in the past for the Waratahs.
Taking Folau’s place out wide for Saturday evening’s clash in Yokohama is Melbourne Rebels winger Sefa Naivalu. Naivalu hasn’t played for the Wallabies since lining up against Italy in Brisbane last June.
In a blow for Australia, Adam Coleman has been ruled out of the match with groin soreness, Rob Simmons named to take his place in the run-on side alongside fellow lock Izack Rodda.
The only other change to the starting XV since the Wallabies’ 45-34 win over Argentina in Salta sees Allan Alaalatoa take the no.3 jersey in place of Taniela Tupou.
Tupou has been dropped back to a bench role alongside fellow front-rowers Tolu Latu and Sekope Kepu, the latter of whom is set to become just the ninth player – and first prop – to make 100 Test appearances for Australia.
In addition to his three front-row replacements, Cheika has included Rory Arnold, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps and Tom Banks on the bench, alongside the returning Jack Dempsey and Samu Kerevi. Kerevi hasn’t featured for the Wallabies since the June Tests, having spent four months on the sideline with a bicep injury, while Dempsey hasn’t played a Test since Bledisloe 3 last year – Australia’s last victory over New Zealand.
With nine players named on the bench, though, Cheika will need to omit one of his reserves before kick-off on Saturday.
1. Scott Sio (51 Tests)
2. Folau Faingaa (5 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (29 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (13 Tests)
5. Rob Simmons (90 Tests)
6. Ned Hanigan (17 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (87 Tests)
8. David Pocock (74 Tests)
9. Will Genia (96 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (64 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (17 Tests)
12. Kurtley Beale (80 Tests)
13. Israel Folau (69 Tests)
14. Sefa Naivalu (7 Tests)
15. Dane Haylett-Petty (27 Tests)
16. Tolu Latu (9 Tests)
17. Sekope Kepu (99 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (8 Tests)
19. Rory Arnold (18 Tests)
20. Jack Dempsey (6 Tests)
21. Pete Samu (7 Tests)
22. Nick Phipps (69 Tests)
23. Samu Kerevi (21 Tests)
24. Tom Banks (3 Tests)
Bledisloe 3 kicks off at 5pm (AEDT) in Yokohama, Tokyo, this Saturday.