James Slipper clear for Wallabies Test in South Africa, with four in line to debut

Co-captain James Slipper has overcome a knee injury in time for the Wallabies' Test in South Africa.

Co-captain James Slipper has overcome a knee injury in time for the Wallabies' Test in South Africa. Photo: AAP

Four players are in line to make Test debuts while Wallabies co-captain James Slipper has overcome a knee injury to be named for Australia’s Rugby Championship opener against South Africa.

The Wallabies are looking for a first-ever win in Pretoria on Sunday morning (AEST) with Eddie Jones in charge for his first Test since returning as coach.

Tom Hooper, 22, will earn his first cap after being named as blindside flanker while there are three possible debutants on the bench in five-eighth Carter Gordon, lock Richie Arnold and 21-year-old prop Zane Nonggorr, with Taniela Tupou requiring more training minutes after his Achilles injury.

Brumbies utility forward Hooper will line up alongside co-captain Michael Hooper (no relation) with No.8 Rob Valetini rounding out the back row.

Slipper was in doubt after a training mishap, but will make his 128th Test appearance alongside Waratahs hooker David Porecki with Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa at tighthead prop.

Nick Frost and France-based Will Skelton are the starting locks.

Nic White will reunite with Quade Cooper in the halves while star inside centre Samu Kerevi will return from a hamstring issue via the bench, leaving Reece Hodge to combine in the midfield with Len Ikitau.

Former NRL star Suliasi Vunivalu will make his first Test start on the right wing, with Marika Koroibete on the left edge and Tom Wright at fullback.

Jones said the Wallabies’ preparation for the Loftus Versfeld clash had been first rate.

“As a squad, the players have worked extremely hard since coming together as a group and we’ve prepared well this week,” he said.

“The 23 players selected have an opportunity to be part of history with a win over South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday night.”

Wallabies: James Slipper (co-capt), David Porecki, Allan Alaalatoa, Nick Frost, Will Skelton, Tom Hooper, Michael Hooper (co-capt), Rob Valetini, Nic White, Quade Cooper, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Len Ikitau, Suliasi Vunivalu, Tom Wright. Res: Jordan Uelese, Matt Gibbon, Zane Nonggorr, Richie Arnold, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Samu Kerevi, Carter Gordon.


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