O'Connor back to bolster Wallabies facing improbable 101-point win to secure Tri Nations

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James O'Connor (Getty Images)
James O'Connor (Getty Images)

Fit-again James O'Connor was reinstated as chief Wallabies playmaker on Thursday, with Reece Hodge shifted to fullback as Australia look to end the year on a high against a rattled Argentina in the Tri Nations.

O'Connor was sidelined for more than a month by leg and foot injuries, missing three Tests, with coach Dave Rennie trying out Hodge and Noah Lolesio at flyhalf with mixed results.

"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," said Rennie.

"Reece has done a great job for us at number 10 over the past two games and we're confident he'll put in another good performance for us on Saturday night from fullback."

With O'Connor returning, the versatile Hodge replaces Tom Banks at fullback, which means he will have started for the Wallabies in every position across the backline except scrumhalf.

Australia face a daunting task in Parramatta on Saturday, needing to win by an improbable 101 points to overtake New Zealand and claim the Tri Nations silverware.

Rennie kept faith with young centres Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia, while wings Tom Wright and Marika Koroibete fill out the backline with Nic White again at scrum-half.

Among the forwards, Allan Alaalatoa returns at tight-head prop ahead of Taniela Tupou with the pack otherwise unchanged from the team that drew 15-15 with Argentina a fortnight ago.

"The side has worked really hard over the last 10 weeks or so and built a strong connection and I know as a full squad we are really keen to put together a performance that reflects that," Rennie added.

Teams:

Australia

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

Substitutes: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Lukhan Salakia-Loto, 20 Rob Valetini, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Tom Banks

Argentina

15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente (captain), 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Facundo Isa, 6 Santiago Grondona;, 5Marcos Kremer, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Substitutes: 16 Jose Luis Gonzalez, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Francisco Gorrissen, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Santiago Chocobares

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