Tongan Thor set for Wallabies debut

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Taniela Tupou has been thrown straight into the Wallabies 23, named to face Scotland just three days after becoming eligible for Test duty.

Tupou joined the squad last week in London, after the NRC season wrapped, and has done enough to impress coach Michael Cheika in his training sessions.

The 21-year-old has completed his three-year eligibility requirements, after moving to Australia from New Zealand as a teenager.

Former skipper Stephen Moore will start in his final rugby match, with Tatafu Polota-Nau on the bench, but Wallabies skills coach Mick Byrne said there was no tokenistic farewell gesture.

"No, I think it’s just been the way that it’s panned out over the last few weeks," he said.

"Stephen has been itching to get on the field and as he announced during the week, he gets a chance now to get out and start the game and lead us from the front like he’s done for a long time."

Ben McCalman will start at six in place of injured Ned Hanigan, with Lukhan Tui cleared of a hamstring injury to play off the bench, and Matt Philip dropping out.

Byrne said McCalman had slotted back into the setup with ease in his return from an injury-riddled year.

"Ben came on in that BaaBaas week and just took another step from where he’d been during the year.," he said.

"He’s worked really hard at getting into our system.

"He’s been around for a while now but he’s got into our new system and worked through that and it’s just his efforts to really take on the learning of what we’re trying to do and the enthusiasm he has shown for that and he’s been playing good footy."

Tetera Faulkner replaces Allan Alaalatoa in the replacement loosehead spot, while winger Henry Speight comes onto the pine, in a five-three combination.

The Wallabies come into the Scotland match off a frustrating defeat to England but Byrne said that hadn't spoiled their tour, keen to finish on a high note.

"I wouldn't say it's tainted it, it's certainly, we weren't by any means happy with our performance last Saturday and winning and losing in Test match rugby, doesn't taint you at all," he said.

"Winning and losing's part of the game, it's what you do afterwards, preparation, how you review.

"Players were great on Monday, a lot of honest conversations were had Monday and it's been a great week and we just finished off on a great training venue today and as far as coaches go, we're really looking forward to Saturday."

Australia takes on Scotland on Saturday November 25, kicking off at 2:30pm local, Sunday 1:30am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS Viceland.


IN: Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Tui, Tetera Faulkner, Henry Speight

OUT: Matt Philip, Allan Alaalatoa, Ned Hanigan (knee), Tom Robertson

Wallabies to face Scotland

1. Scott Sio (42 Tests)

2. Stephen Moore (128 Tests)

3. Sekope Kepu (90 Tests)

4. Rob Simmons (81 Tests)

5. Blake Enever (1 Test)

6. Ben McCalman (52 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (78 Tests)

8. Sean McMahon (25 Tests)

9. Will Genia (vc) (87 Tests)

10. Bernard Foley (vc) (54 Tests)

11. Reece Hodge (23 Tests)

12. Samu Kerevi (17 Tests)

13. Tevita Kuridrani (57 Tests)

14. Marika Koroibete (7 Tests)

15. Kurtley Beale (70 Tests)


16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (81 Tests)              

17. Tetera Faulkner (3 Tests)

18. Taniela Tupou*

19. Lukhan Tui (3 Tests)

20. Lopeti Timani (11 Tests)

21. Nick Phipps (61 Tests)

22. Karmichael Hunt (5 Tests)

23. Henry Speight (18 Tests) 

*denotes uncapped