Wallabies hand debuts to 2 for Italy Test

Jordan Petaia (Gallo Images)
Jordan Petaia (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Jordan Petaia and Jake Gordon will make their Wallabies debuts in Padova as Michael Cheika backs new faces to get the job started against Italy.

The pair are among six changes to the match-day 23 for the second end-of-year tour clash.

Petaia will become the youngest Australian debutant since James O'Connor in 2008 and the third-youngest ever, behind Brian Ford and O'Connor, when he runs out on the wing, ironically sharing the job out wide with the most-capped player in the squad, Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Gordon has also been thrown straight into a starting spot, with Nick Phipps dropping out of the 23 as his Waratahs team-mate earns a debut, while Will Genia will keep his chances of a 100th Test at Twickenham alive after being named on the bench.

Ashley-Cooper hasn't played a Test in more than two years but rejoined the Wallabies squad a fortnight ago in the first step towards a chance at a fourth Rugby World Cup berth.

Their combination means Israel Folau returns to full-back for the first time since the first Bledisloe in Sydney.

Matt Toomua will finally take the main playmaking reins for the first time since his return to the Wallabies set-up, pushing Bernard Foley to 12 in Italy and Kurtley Beale onto the pine.

The Toomua-Foley pairing is the only combination of the trio that hasn't really been examined since Toomua's return and this will be the first time Beale has come off the bench in a Test since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Foley last played 12 back in 2016 when Quade Cooper was starting at 10 during that Rugby Championship.

Tolu Latu has been dropped from the side, with Folau Fainga'a and Tatafu Polota-Nau the preferred hookers, but Cheika has kept his first-choice second-row in Izack Rodda and Adam Coleman.

Interestingly, Cheika has also opted against giving two of his hardest workers in David Pocock and Michael Hooper a rest in the clash, starting the back-row workhorses together with Jack Dempsey for the second week in a row.

On the bench, Jermaine Ainsley, Rory Arnold and Pete Samu have all earned a recall to the 23.

Cheika has left youngsters Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks out of the 23.

Teams:

Italy

15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), 1 Andrea Lovotti

Substitutes: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Johan Meyer, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Luca Morisi

Australia

15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Will Genia, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty

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