Watch!>@RUGBY!! Wallabies vs New Zealand (2020) 123games fREE"oNline New Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has named four debutants in his team to face the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup opener on Sunday in Wellington.
Rennie has surprised by including three uncapped Queensland Reds players in his starting side, while James O’Connor will start at No. 10, star speedster Jordan Petaia is out with a hip flexor injury and scrum half Tate McDermott was the biggest omission.
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Rennie’s team announcement hands debuts to Hunter Paisami, Harry Wilson and Filipo Daugunu in his starting side.
Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio will also make his debut from the bench.
James O’Connor selected as the Wallabies’ starting No. 10 for the first time since 2013 is another key gamble by Rennie, who has gone with the experience of Nic White at No. 9 and Matt To’omua at inside centre.
Rennie said earlier this week his priority was finding the right balance in his halves, while also suggesting he would not be afraid to inject some youth into the team.
“When you pick sides it’s about complimentary players as well and the mix is important,” Rennie said.
“It’ll end up being a blend of guys who have been around and worn the jersey a lot.
“It’ll help the nerves of some of the young men as well, so, it’ll be a good blend.”In a statement issued with the team announcement, Rennie said: “It’s a privilege for me to be able to announce the first Australian side of the year and especially to name a number of players who will wear the gold jersey for the first time.
“I’ve been impressed with how quickly the squad has come together. There’s a good group of men here and the last three weeks has given us a chance to work hard and learn more about each other.
“We need to demonstrate that brotherhood and connection on Sunday.”
Rennie did not shy away from big selection calls for his first match in charge, benching veteran lock Rob Simmons, while making 13 changes to the starting 15 from the Wallabies’ last outing, the 40-16 demolition by England in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals last October that prompted Michael Cheika’s departure.
The only survivors from that mauling are captain Michael Hooper, playing his 100th Test, and winger Marika Koroibete.
Rennie’s team, who hope to win Australia’s first Bledisloe series since 2002, have a strong emphasis on youth while retaining experienced players in key positions.