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James O'Connor back at 10 for Wallabies' final Test of the year

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3rd December, 2020
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James O’Connor has returned to the Wallabies’ flyhalf jersey for the side’s final Test of the year against Argentina this Saturday.

O’Connor hasn’t played since Bledisloe 2 in Auckland due to a knee injury, but slots back into the number ten role in a strong side named by coach Dave Rennie.

Reece Hodge moves from the halves to fullback to accommodate O’Connor’s return, pushing Tom Banks onto the bench. It will be Hodge’s first start at 15 in national colours, and means he’ll have played in each of the starting backline positions for the Wallabies aside from scrumhalf.

“It’s great to have James back in the team this weekend, he brings a lot of experience to a young group and has been working really hard to get his body right to be able to get back on the field,” Rennie said.

“Reece has done a great job for us at number ten over the past two games and we’re confident he’ll put in another good performance for us on Saturday night from fullback.”

The only other change to the run-on side sees Allan Alaalatoa come back into the starting front row, with Taniela Tupou moving back to the impact sub role he filled so well in Bledisloe 4.

Two players have been brought into the bench. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto makes his return from an ankle injury amongst the reserves in place of Liam Wright, and Irae Simone has got the nod ahead of Noah Lolesio, who was an unused substitute in the Wallabies’ draw with Argentina in Newcastle two weeks ago.

The rest of the side remains unchanged. Scott Sio and Brandon Paenga-Amosa partner Alaalatoa up front, and Rob Simmons and Matt Philip are once again the locks. It will be Philip’s sixth-straight start in the second row, making him one of just five Wallabies to feature in the run-on side for every Test this year. Captain Michael Hooper, number eight Harry Wilson, scrumhalf Nic White and winger Marika Koroibete are the others.

Ned Hanigan has retained his spot at blindside flanker, as has Tom Wright on the wing, and Jordan Petaia and Hunter Paisami in midfield.

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Wallabies team to face Argentina

1. Scott Sio
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Rob Simmons
5. Matt Philip
6. Ned Hanigan
7. Michael Hooper (c)
8. Harry Wilson
9. Nic White
10. James O’Connor
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Hunter Paisami
13. Jordan Petaia
14. Tom Wright
15. Reece Hodge

Bench
16. Folau Fainga’a
17. Angus Bell
18. Taniela Tupou
19. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
20. Rob Valetini
21. Jake Gordon
22. Irae Simone
23. Tom Banks