Wallabies boosted by O’Connor’s return

James O’Connor has recovered from injury and will start at flyhalf for the Wallabies in the final Tri-Nations Test against Argentina on Saturday.

O’Connor will return to the side for the first time since injuring his knee in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland, making his first appearance of the 2020 Tri-Nations.

His is one of three changes to the Wallabies starting lineup from the side that drew with the Pumas a couple of weeks ago, with Reece Hodge shifting to fullback and Tom Banks dropping to the bench as a result.

Hodge’s shift means the 26-year-old will have started for the Wallabies in every position across the backline except scrumhalf during his international career.

In the only other change, Allan Alaalatoa starts ahead of Taniela Tupou at tighthead prop, with the latter dropping to the bench.

There are a couple of alterations among the substitutes with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto also returning from a foot injury to replace loose forward Liam Wright, while Irae Simone replaces his Brumbies teammate Noah Lolesio.

‘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,’ Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said.

‘Reece has done a great job for us at No 10 over the past two games and we’re confident he’ll put in another good performance for us on Saturday night from fullback.

‘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.’

The Wallabies will need to beat Argentina by a record margin of 101 points in order to prevent the All Blacks from claiming the Tri-Nations title.

Wallabies – 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 (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 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.

Photo: Getty Images