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WALLABIES TEAM CONFIRMED: Kerevi injury paves way for Paisami return, Brumbies hooker set for debut

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20th October, 2021
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Hunter Paisami will replace Samu Kerevi at No.12 against Japan as he returns for the first time since facing the All Blacks in August.

Paisami was first choice earlier in the campaign before leaving camp to attend the birth of his child.

With Kerevi, who suffered an ankle injury against Argentina, in storming form alongside Len Ikitau, Paisami struggled to get back into the squad and he was reportedly close to knocking back a place on the tour to stay behind with his family.

Paisami is one of four changes to the starting XV with Matt Philip returning to the second row, his Rebels teammate Rob Leota recalled at blindside flanker and Tom Wright named on the wing.

The front row remains unchanged for the fourth consecutive game with James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a and Taniela Tupou.

Slipper will surpass former teammates Will Genia and Sekope Kepu and join George Smith when he runs on for his 111th Test.

Philip will reignite his combination with Western Force recruit Izack Rodda in the second row, with Leota joined by skipper Michael Hooper and no.8 Rob Valetini in the loose forwards.

Nic White is at No.9 Quade Cooper, in what’s shaping as his last Test of the season.

Quade Cooper of the Wallabies

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)


Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney is set to become Wallaby no. 947, after being named on the bench.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “While it’s disappointing for Samu not to be able to play in Japan, Hunter started the first five Tests this year prior to the birth of his daughter and is chomping at the bit for another opportunity.”

“Connal’s strong set piece and all-around game has earned him a chance to represent his country, which is a proud moment for him and his family.

“We’ve got a huge amount of respect for the Brave Blossoms who are now competitive with the best sides in the world.

“We’ll need to be at our best.”

The match will be held in Oita, which was where they were beaten by England in the quarter final of the World Cup in 2019.

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Japan are ranked No.10 in the world and coached by Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown.

“Always brutal, always high pace, so I expect the same,” Rennie said about the pair last week.

“They’ve got Scott Hansen in the mix from a defence point of view, obviously a smart man who has worked a lot with the Crusaders.

“They’ve got a very good, astute coaching group.

“They fronted pretty well against the Lions (in June), went very close to beating Ireland, had a fantastic World Cup, they’ve got a lot of experience in the group now and a number of foreigners who have done their time here and are now eligible to play for Japan.

“They’ve got a really good mix and a lot of confidence in their game.”


The Wallabies last played Japan in 2017, winning 63-30.

Wallabies team

1. James Slipper (110 Tests)
2. Folau Fainga’a (21 Tests)
3. Taniela Tupou (35 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (30 Tests)
5. Matt Philip (19 Tests)
6. Rob Leota (2 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (115 Tests)
8. Rob Valetini (14 Tests)
9. Nic White (43 Tests)
10. Quade Cooper (74 Tests)
11. Andrew Kellaway (9 Tests)
12. Hunter Paisami (11 Tests)
13. Len Ikitau (9 Tests)
14. Tom Wright (6 Tests)
15. Reece Hodge (53 Tests)
16. Connal McInerney*
17. Angus Bell (12 Tests)
18. Allan Alaalatoa (50 Tests)
19. Darcy Swain (9 Tests)
20. Pete Samu (15 Tests)
21. Tate McDermott (11 Tests)
22. James O’Connor (57 Tests)
23. Jordan Petaia (14 Tests)