CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Flyhalf Ben Donaldson will make his first Test start for Australia against Wales on Saturday in Cardiff.
No. 8 Langi Gleeson is also starting a Test for the first time and Rebels hardhead Sam Talakai could make his debut off the bench in a repaired Wallabies side.
They had to send home seven players who were injured in a 13-10 loss to Ireland in Dublin last weekend, with fly half Bernard Foley and lock Will Skelton having to return to their clubs abroad as the Wales game was outside the international test window.
That forced nine changes, one positional, for the Wales game.
Folau Fainga’a was the hooker after David Porecki suffered a concussion. The tight five was otherwise unchanged, but the back row lost Michael Hooper to concussion symptoms and Rob Valetini to an ankle injury. They have been replaced by Fraser McReight and Gleeson for their third cap.
Waratah halves Jake Gordon and Donaldson have replaced a shaken Nic White and the late Foley.
Donaldson made his debut late against Italy and missed a last-gasp conversion attempt that would have won the game for Australia.
Reece Hodge will start inside center for the first time in six years in place of the injured Hunter Paisami.
Fullback Andrew Kellaway suffered a broken foot and was replaced by Tom Wright, who was on the wing against Ireland. Mark Nawaqanitawase has moved from the right wing to the left, and Jordan Petaia moves to the right wing.
In the reserves, Talakai replaced Taniela Tupou, who suffered a suspected Achilles tendon rupture.
Also joining as substitutes were hooker Lachlan Lonergan, lock Ned Hanigan, scrum half Tate McDermott and fullback Jock Campbell.
The Wallabies haven’t beaten Wales in Wales since 2017.
Their European tour began with a win over Scotland followed by losses to France, Italy and Ireland.
“We are well aware that Wales will be looking to respond after last week (they lost to Georgia), but we are equally motivated to end our season on a positive note here in Cardiff,” said manager Dave Rennie.
Australia: Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Reece Hodge, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Ben Donaldson, Jake Gordon; Langi Gleeson, Fraser McReight, Jed Holloway, Cadeyrn Neville, Nick Frost, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper (captain). Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Tom Robertson, Sam Talakai, Ned Hanigan, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio, Jock Campbell.
More AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports