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Rugby: Australia make three changes for Springboks rematch

SYDNEY :Australia coach Dave Rennie largely kept faith with the Wallabies side that beat South Africa on Sunday when he made three changes for this weekend's Rugby Championship rematch with the world champions in Brisbane.

Nic White moves up from the bench to replace Tate McDermott at scrumhalf in a halfback partnership with Quade Cooper, who kicked a clutch penalty to secure last week's 28-26 win on the Gold Coast in his first test for four years.

Taniela Tupou gets his first start of the campaign at tighthead prop in place of Allan Alaalatoa, who has returned home for the birth of his child, while James Slipper returns on the other side of the front row in place of Angus Bell for Saturday's test at Lang Park.

McDermott had started in all three Rugby Championship tests and been one of the side's best performers but he suffered a blow to his shin in a clash with lock Eben Etzebeth on Sunday and came off early.

"We think it’s a good mix, the quality of Nic’s skill-set early and Tate’s ability to break up the game against tiring forwards, so that’s the thinking," Rennie told reporters on Thursday.

Bell drops to the bench alongside recalled tighthead Tom Robertson, who is set to play his first test since 2018.

Lock Darcy Swain, who missed last week's test after suffering an injury in the last of three losses to the All Blacks, was also named on the bench in place of Rob Leota.

There was some speculation James O'Connor might be picked for his first test of the season after a long battle with injury.

However, Rennie said he was never considered and the plan was for him to play a practice match on Friday with other squad members against an Argentina selection.

As it was, the practice match fell through.

"He’s in really good nick, he looks sharp so we’re pretty confident he’ll be ready to go next week," said Rennie.

Flanker Michael Hooper will captain his country for a record 60th test, overtaking the long-standing mark of Wallabies great George Gregan.

"It's an incredible milestone for Hoops on Saturday evening in Brisbane and it's a testament to him as a person and a player," Rennie said.

"I've been so impressed with his leadership both on and off the field and his drive to be better every day."

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber named his side on Wednesday, making one enforced and one tactical change to the side which lost last week.

Team: 15-Tom Banks, 14-Andrew Kellaway, 13-Len Ikitau, 12-Samu Kerevi, 11-Marika Koroibete, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Nic White, 8-Rob Valetini, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Lachie Swinton, 5-Matt Philip, 4-Izack Rodda, 3-Taniela Tupou, 2-Folau Fainga'a, 1-James Slipper

Replacements: 16-Feleti Kaitu'u, 17-Angus Bell, 18-Tom Robertson, 19-Darcy Swain, 20-Pete Samu, 21-Tate McDermott, 22-Reece Hodge, 23-Jordan Petaia.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney and Ian Ransom in Melbourne, editing by Peter Rutherford)

Source: Reuters

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