Wallabies pick four debutants to face Springboks in Rugby Championship opener

Wallabies pick four debutants to face Springboks in Rugby Championship opener

Tom Hooper will make his debut at flank for the Wallabies against the Boks on Saturday, while head coach Eddie Jones has picked another three debutants on the bench.

22-year-old Hooper has been handed the No 6 jersey for his first appearance in Wallaby gold, joining co-captain Michael Hooper and Rob Valetini in the back row, the latter playing his first-ever Test in South Africa.

The youngest player in the squad at 21, Zane Nonggorr has been named as the replacement tighthead prop with Taniela Tupou requiring more minutes at training before making his return to the field.

French Top 14 champion Richie Arnold is another in line for his first Test cap at Loftus Versfeld Stadium as the finishing lock, while Melbourne Rebels playmaker Carter Gordon is the final potential debutant.

An experienced front row sees co-captain James Slipper line up for his 128th appearance alongside Waratahs hooker David Porecki and Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa at tighthead prop.

The second-row pairing of Nick Frost and Will Skelton both start in their first Tests in South Africa, the side having last visited the Rainbow Nation in 2019.

Nic White will start at scrumhalf, reigniting his halves pairing with Quade Cooper who has fully recovered from a ruptured Achilles. Cooper lining up in South Africa for the first time since 2013.

Reece Hodge will start at inside centre, combining in the midfield with Len Ikitau who will wear the number 13 jersey for the 12th consecutive Test.

Reds flyer Suliasi Vunivalu has earned his first start for Australia on the right wing, with 2022 John Eales Medallist Marika Koroibete on the left edge. Tom Wright rounds out the run-on side at fullback.

Melbourne duo Jordan Uelese and Matt Gibbon join Nonggorr as the finishing front row, with Pete Samu set to cover the backrow.

Queensland captain Tate McDermott will provide energy as the replacement scrumhalf, with Samu Kerevi set to feature for the Wallabies for the first time since last year's England Series on home soil.

Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones said: "As a squad, the players have worked extremely hard since coming together as a group and we've prepared well this week."

"The 23 players selected have an opportunity to be part of history with a win over South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday night."

Australia: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (co-captain), 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (co-captain).

Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Carter Gordon.