Wallabies fans face a nervous wait ahead of the must-win game against Wales – with their clash in Lyon the final act of eight games in an extended matchweek three.
Italy and Uruguay kick us off early Thursday morning, Australian time, while the match against Wales in Lyon is on at 5am AEST Monday morning.
That match aside, the blockbuster fixture this week sees two of the top favourites – Ireland and South Africa clash in Paris early Sunday morning AEST.
The Wallabies named the team for their match on Friday evening with Andrew Kellaway back in the starting side after missing the previous two games., and Ben Donaldson replacing Carter Gordon at No.10.
Italy vs Uruguay, Stade de Nice, Nice (1.45am Thursday AEST)
Italy coach Kieran Crowley has made four personnel changes to his starting XV from the team who defeated Namibia 52-8 in the opening round, while also shifting star outside back Ange Capuozzo from wing to fullback.
“You know what he does from 15. He will probably have more opportunities to have the ball in his hands,” Crowley said. “But you can only do that if the guys up front do the job. All games start up front.”
Marco Riccioni comes into the front-row, Niccolò Cannone into the second-row, Alessandro Garbisi into scrumhalf and Lorenzo Pani onto the wing. Tommaso Allan and Garbisi start alongside each other in the halfbacks for only the third time, after last year against Georgia and this year against Romania.
Paolo Garbisi will start at inside-centre for the first time in his Test career.
Uruguay, who surprised many with their endeavour against France last time out, have made two changes from that 27-12 defeat. German Kessler comes in at hooker and Gaston Mieres comes onto the wing. Mieres, who has scored 16 tries in 76 Tests will feature in his third World Cup after playing every minute of their 2015 campaign and averaging 55 minutes across three appearances in 2019.
Italy (1-15): Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Marco Riccioni, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (c), Lorenzo Cannone, Alessandro Garbisi, Tommaso Allan, Montanna Ioane, Paolo Garbisi, Juan Ignacio Brex, Lorenzo Pani, Ange Capuozzo.
Replacements: Federico Zani, Ivan Nemer, Pietro Ceccarelli, Dino Lamb, Manuel Zuliani, Giovanni Pettinelli, Alessandro Fusco, Paolo Odogwu.
Uruguay (1-15): Mateo Sanguinetti, German Kessler, Ignacio Peculo, Felipe Aliaga, Manuel Leindekar, Manuel Ardao, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Diana, Santiago Arata, Felipe Etcheverry, Nicolas Freitas, Andres Vilaseca (c), Tomas Inciarte, Gaston Mieres, Baltazar Amaya.
Replacements: Guillermo Pujadas, Facundo Gattas, Diego Arbelo, Ignacio Dotti, Carlos Deus, Agustin Ormaechea, Felipe Berchesi, Bautista Basso.
France vs Namibia, Stade de Marseille, Marseille (5am AEST Friday)
France coach Fabien Galthié has made 12 changes to his starting XV from the side that defeated Uruguay last match, with only Cameron Woki, Louis Bielle-Biarrey and Anthony Jelonch retaining their spots.
Ten players who started against the All Blacks in the opening game of RWC 2023 return to the starting XV, including five in the back-line, while Jonathan Danty is back after missing the opening two matches with injury.
Namibia coach Allister Coetzee has made nine changes to his starting XV from their last game against New Zealand, with five in the forward pack and four in the back-line. Only Cliven Loubser, Gerswin Mouton, Johan Retief, Johan Coetzee, Prince Gaoseb and captain Johan Deysel have retained their places in the run-on team.
France (1-15): Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Uini Atonio, Cameron Woki, Thibaud Flament, François Cros, Charles Ollivon, Anthony Jelonch, Antoine Dupont, Matthieu Jalibert, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Jonathan Danty, Gaël Fickou, Damian Penaud, Thomas Ramos.
Replacements: Pierre Bourgarit, Reda Wardi, Dorian Aldegheri, Romain Taofifenua, Paul Boudehent, Baptiste Couilloud, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet.
Namibia (1-15): Desiderius Sethie, Louis van der Westhuizen, Johan Coetzee, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Adriaan Ludick, Max Katjijeko, Johan Retief, Prince Gaoseb, Jacques Theron,
Cliven Loubser, JC Greyling, Danco Burger, Johan Deysel (c), Gerswin Mouton, Andre van der Bergh.
Replacements: Obert Nortje, Jason Benade, Haitembu Shifuka, PJ Van Lill, Richard Hardwick, Oela Blaauw, Alcino Izaacs, Divan Rossouw.
Argentina vs Samoa, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne (1.45am AEST Saturday)
Argentina have brought in prop Eduardo Bello, lock Guido Petti and centre Matias Moroni to face Samoa in their key Rugby World Cup match on Friday.
All three came off the bench against England two weeks ago but made little impact in a 27-10 loss in Marseille.
Bello and Moroni made straight swaps with Francisco Gómez Kodela and Lucio Cinti.
Samoa have brought in three of their France-based professionals.
Stade Francais tighthead prop Paul Alo-Emile, who came off the bench in the opening win over Chile last week, and Toulon lock Brian Alainu’u’ese both played for Samoa through the Pacific Nations Cup.
Montpellier wing Ben Lam will play his first Test this year.
Samoa are vying mainly with Argentina and England to be one of two teams to advance from Pool D. Samoa haven’t reached the quarter-finals since 1995, before the game went fully professional.
Argentina (1-15): Thomas Gallo, Julian Montoya (c), Eduardo Bello, Guido Petti Pagadizabal, Matias Alemanno, Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Gonzalo Bertranou, Santiago Carreras, Mateo Carreras, Santiago Chocobares, Matías Moroni, Emiliano Boffelli, Juan Cruz Mallia.
Replacements: Agustín Creevy, Mayco Vivas, Francisco Gómez Kodela, Pedro Rubiolo, Rodrigo Bruni, Tomas Cubelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Lucio Cinti.
Samoa (1-15): James Lay, Seilala Lam, Paul Alo-Emile, Brian Alainu’u’ese, Chris Vui (c), Theo McFarland, Fritz Lee, Steven Luatua, Jonathan Taumateine, Christian Leali’ifano, Ben Lam, Tumua Manu, Ulupano Junior Seuteni, Nigel Ah-Wong, Duncan Paia’aua.
Replacements: Sama Malolo, Charlie Faumuina, Michael Alaalatoa, Taleni Junior Agaese Seu, Sa Jordan Taufua, Melani Matavao, Alai D’Angelo Leuila, Danny Toala.
Georgia vs Portugal, Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse (10pm AEST Saturday)
Georgia coach Levan Maisashvili has made four changes in the forward pack, with Mikheil Nariashvili and Beka Gigashvili coming into the front-row, Vladimer Chachanidze into the second-row, and Beka Saginadze into the back-row.
There are four changes in the back-line with a new halves pairing of Gela Aprasidze and Tedo Abzhandadze, while Alexander Todua comes onto the wing, and Giorgi Kveseladze (pictured) into the midfield.
Portugal head coach Patrice Lagisquet has made two changes to his forwards and two in the backs from the starting XV that lost 28-8 against Wales.
Diogo Hasse Ferreira replaces Anthony Alves in the front-row while José Madeira comes into the second-row in place of Martim Belo. In the back-line, Pedro Bettencourt replaces José Lima at outside-centre and Raffaele Storti replaces Vincent Pinto on the right wing.
Georgia (1-15): Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Beka Gigashvili, Vladimer Chachanidze, Konstantine Mikautadze, Tornike Jalagonia, Beka Saginadze, Beka Gorgadze, Gela Aprasidze, Tedo Abzhandadze,
Alexander Todua, Merab Sharikadze (c), Giorgi Kveseladze, Akaki Tabutsadze, Davit Niniashvili.
Replacements: Tengizi Zamtaradze, Guram Gogichashvili, Guram Papidze, Nodar Cheishvili, Giorgi Tsutskiridze, Vasil Lobzhanidze, Luka Matkava, Demur Tapladze.
Portugal (1-15): Francisco Fernandes, Mike Tadjer, Diogo Hasse Ferreira, José Madeira, Steevy Cerqueira, João Granate, Nicolas Martins, Rafael Simões, Samuel Marques, Jerónimo Portela, Rodrigo Marta, Tomás Appleton (c), Pedro Bettencourt, Raffaele Storti, Nuno Sousa Guedes.
Replacements: David Costa, Lionel Campergue, Anthony Alves, Martim Belo, David Wallis, Thibault de Freitas, Pedro Lucas, Manuel Cardoso Pinto.
England vs Chile, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille (1.45am AEST Sunday)
Owen Farrell returns to Steve Borthwick’s English side as one of 12 changes to the team that beat Japan 34-12 for his side’s clash against Chile.
Farrell returns at fly-half, with George Ford returning to the bench, while fellow playmaker Marcus Smith will start for the first time at fullback for England.
England have won both their opening two clashes, which has the 2003 World Cup champions poised to top their Pool D group.
Chile coach Pablo Lemoine has made nine changes to his starting XV from their defeat by Samoa, with only Matias Dittus, Clemente Saavedra, Rodrigo Fernandez, Matias Garafulic, Domingo Saavedra and captain Martín Sigren retaining their places.
England: Bevan Rodd, Theo Dan, Kyle Sinckler, David Ribbans, George Martin, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care, Owen Farrell (c), Max Malins, Ollie Lawrence, Elliot Daly, Henry Arundell, Marcus Smith
Replacements: Jack Walker, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Ollie Chessum, Ben Earl, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Joe Marchant
Chile (1-15): Salvador Lues, Augusto Bohme, Matias Dittus, Clemente Saavedra, Javier Eissmann, Martín Sigren (c), Ignacio Silva, Alfonso Escobar, Benjamin Videla, Rodrigo Fernandez, Franco Velarde
Matias Garafulic, Domingo Saavedra, Cristobal Game, Francisco Urroz.
Replacements: Tomas Dussaillant, Vittorio Lastra, Inaki Gurruchaga, Pablo Huete, Thomas Orchard, Raimundo Martínez, Lukas Carvallo, Inaki Ayarza.
South Africa vs Ireland, Stade de France, Saint-Denis (5am AEST Sunday)
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made 13 personnel changes and nammed a 7-1 split on the replacements’ bench for the crucial clash with Ireland.
The two players to retain their places in the run-on team are hooker Bongi Mbonambi and Damian Willemse, who moves from flyhalf to fullback.
“Ireland are a quality team with a strong pack of forwards and talented backs, and they play with a lot of speed, so we know what we have to do to deliver a top-drawer performance for things to go our way,” said Nienaber.
“We faced them late last year and we’ve been keeping an eye on their performances this year, so everyone knows what we have to do this weekend.
“We’re fortunate to have a match-fit squad and have been building depth and versatility for a while and believe this is the best combination for this match. For many of these players this is their second or third World Cup, so they know what it takes to perform at this level, and we believe this team has the right balance of players to achieve what we would like to achieve in this match.
“We know it’s going to be a grind of a match and we know we need to pitch up physically and mentally. We also need to start with intensity and stay focused until the final whistle.
“This is a massive game for both sides with an eye to progressing out of our pool, so we need to be extremely accurate in all areas of our game.”
Ireland, meanwhile, have made just one change to their starting side, with halfback Jamison Gibson-Park returning for Conor Murray.
Andy Farrell’s men have been bolstered by the return of hooker Dan Sheehan, who will come off the bench with Ronan Kelleher to start.
Bundee Aki – the former Super Rugby-winning midfielder – will start at inside centre in what is his 50th Test.
South Africa (1-15): Steven Kitshoff, Mbongeni Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (c), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese, Faf de Klerk, Manie Libbok, Cheslin Kolbe, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Damian Willemse.
Replacements: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Cobus Reinach.
Ireland (1-15): Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris, Jamison Gibson-Park, Johnny Sexton, James Lowe, Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, Mack Hansen, Hugo Keenan.
Replacements: Dan Sheehan, David Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Ryan Baird, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Robbie Henshaw.
Scotland vs Tonga, Stade de Nice, Nice (1.45am AEST Monday)
Gregor Townsend has made four changes to his starting side for their second Pool B match against Tonga at Stade de Nice.
Prop Rory Sutherland and second-row Scott Cummings come into the pack for Pierre Schoeman and Grant Gilchrist respectively, while centre Chris Harris and wing Kyle Steyn start in the backline, with Huw Jones and Darcy Graham dropping to the bench. Ewan Ashman, Sam Skinner and George Horne also come into the match-day 23.
Meanwhile Tonga’s Toutai Kefu has named an unchanged starting XV, with lock Adam Coleman and fly-half Patrick Pellegrini coming on to the bench.
Scotland (1-15): Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Scott Cummings, Jamie Ritchie (c), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey, Ben White, Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Sione Tuipulotu, Chris Harris, Kyle Steyn, Blair Kinghorn.
Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Huw Jones, Darcy Graham.
Tonga (1-15): Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Paula Ngauamo, Ben Tameifuna (c), Halaleva Fifita, Sam Lousi, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Sione Talitui, Vaea Fifita, Augustine Pulu, William Havili, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Pita Ahki, Malakai Fekitoa, Solomone Kata, Salesi Piutau.
Replacements: Sam Moli, Tau Koloamatangi, Sosefo Apikotoa, Adam Coleman, Semisi Paea, Sione Vailanu, Sonatane Takulua, Patrick Pellegrini.
Wales vs Australia, OL Stadium, Lyon (5am AEST Monday)
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named his match-day 23 to face Australia in Pool C in Lyon , with co-captain Dewi Lake not in the XV or among the replacements in an otherwise expected line-up.
Wales made 12 changes from the team that beat Portugal last start.
Gatland said Lake – the team’s first choice hooker – was carrying an injury. “He’s going to be an important player for us. He was disappointed but it doesn’t mean he’s not going to be featuring in future games in this tournament,” said Gatland.
Wales (1-15): Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Aaron Wainwright, Jac Morgan (c), Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Josh Adams, Nick Tompkins, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Henry Thomas, Dafydd Jenkins, Taine Basham, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Rio Dyer.
Australia (1-15): Angus Bell, David Porecki, James Slipper, Nick Frost, Richie Arnold, Rob Leota, Tom Hooper, Rob Valetini, Tate McDermott, Ben Donaldson, Marika Koroibete, Samu Kerevi, Jordan Petaia, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Andrew Kellaway.
Replacements: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Pone Fa’amausili, Matt Philip, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Carter Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu.