Dropped Wallabies Irae Simone and Fraser McReight will have their chance to impress national selectors on Saturday, after the duo were selected in a Rugby AU side to take on Argentina on Saturday afternoon in Sydney.
The warm-up fixture – which follows their 19-15 victory over another Rugby AU side last Friday – is Argentina’s last match ahead of their Tri Nations opener against the All Blacks next Saturday in Sydney.
The match will be played behind closed doors because of COVID-19 restrictions. It will, however, be available to stream LIVE on RugbyXplorer App (available from the App Store and Google Play Store) from 3pm AEDT on Saturday.
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Both inside centre Simone and onball flanker McReight made their debuts for the Wallabies during Bledisloe III’s 43-5 loss to the All Blacks last weekend.
Simone struggled to get his hands on the ball in the loss while McReight made a fine impression off the bench.
They aren’t the only two that will want to show what they’re made of, with fellow Test players Harry Johnson-Holmes, Rob Valetini, Isi Naisarani and Joe Powell also included.
Wallabies squad members Connal McInerney, Trevor Hosea, Caderyn Neville, Will Harrison, Len Ikitau and James Ramm have also been included in the starting line-up.
For Hosea and Neville particularly, the match serves as the perfect opportunity to prove their worth given the shortage in the national second-row stocks and the fact the Wallabies will round out their Tri Nations campaign with back to back fixtures against the Pumas.
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Argentinian coach Mario Ledesma has yet to announce his side. He will do so late on Friday and he’s expected to include a number of his European-based players, after they completed their quarantine on Tuesday.
Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who is serving as a consultant for the Pumas under his old scrum coach with the Australian team, said that the arrival of the European players, including world class stars Nicolas Sanchez and Pablo Matera, had given them a boost.
“Listening to some of the guys who were in quarantine, it was not fun and the guys who were in the ‘real world’ were feeling for the players who were in isolation,” Cheika said.
“Yesterday when European players came out and met with the first group there was a lot of emotion. And it was interesting too because some of the guys never met each other. Young players that never meet players such as Nico Sanchez and Pablo Matera. So for them to meet the first time and immediately start training together is so interesting. It was great off the field and on the field.
“You can see the intensity (lift). This is so important for the next weeks, especially when Test matches will start.”
RUGBY AU (1-15): Harry Johnson-Holmes, Connal McInerney, Vaauli Faamausili, Trevor Hosea, Caderyn Neville, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Isi Naisarani, Joe Powell (c), Will Harrison, Triston Reilly, Irae Simone, Len Ikitau, Mark Nawaqanitawase, James Ramm
RESERVES: David Porecki, George Francis, Darcy Breen, Max Douglas, Josh Kemeny, Henry Robertson, Tane Edmed, Lachie Anderson, Harry Wilson, Kristian Jensen, Philip Potgieter, Charlie Gamble