Hammer time! Wallabies call on Tupou's grunt to tame Argentina Pumas as Rennie makes three changes

Tri Nations
by Christy Doran

Dave Rennie has called on Taniela Tupou to tame Los Pumas, with the giant tight-head prop one of three changes to the Wallabies' starting side for Saturday's must-win Tri Nations fixture in Newcastle.

As revealed earlier by RUGBY.com.au, Scott Sio will join Tupou in the starting side after being called in from outside the match 23 that defeated the All Blacks in Bledisloe IV to replace the injured James Slipper.

“After being left out in our last Test we got the reaction we expected from Scott, his preparation this week has been excellent and his experience will be invaluable against Argentina," Rennie said.


The final change is in the back-row, with Ned Hanigan called into the starting side to replace the suspended Lachie Swinton.

As also written on Thursday morning, Rennie has kept faith with the backline that superbly bounced back against the All Blacks to claim Bledisloe IV.

With James O'Connor sidelined with a foot injury, Reece Hodge gets another chance to impress selectors and convince Australian rugby officials, including his Super Rugby side the Melbourne Rebels, that he is a genuine No.10.

He will benefit from having a settled midfield combination, with Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia named in the centres.

The back three has plenty of speed in it, with Tom Wright and Marika Koroibete selected on the wing and Tom Banks chosen again in the No.15 jersey. It's the fourth time in 2020 that Banks has been chosen in the role and after steady performances in the jersey, the Brumbies fullback will want to make a statement in the role to settle the debate over who should be occupying the jersey.

Banks will, however, only be able to do that if the forward pack lays the platform against a hungry Pumas pack, which has plenty of muscle and big bodies.

That's why Rennie has called up Tupou, who produced his most complete performance against the All Blacks in their come-from-behind 24-22 win in Brisbane earlier this month.

As well as developing his scrummaging in 2020, Tupou has the unique ability to get the Wallabies over the gain line.

He did that superbly less than a fortnight ago, carrying the ball three times in seven phases in the lead up to his late try in Bledisloe IV. Rennie will want more of the same.

Without Swinton, who brought an "edge" to the Wallabies' pack, Rennie wants some more heavy artillery out on the field and there's no-one bigger than Tupou.

To complement the dynamic running of Tupou, Hanigan has been recalled at No.6 - the jersey he's twice filled in 2020.

Hanigan's improved footwork and excellence in the set-piece will be vital against a Pumas side with one of the best defensive lineouts in the world.


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Meanwhile, rather than call-up a specialist second-row replacement, Rennie has opted to include an extra loose-forward on the bench with Rob Valetini selected alongside Liam Wright. That means that if one of his two locks were to get injured, he would shift Hanigan to the second-row.

Elsewhere, Jake Gordon has been given the nod over Tate McDermott who was impressive in his first two Tests off the bench for the Wallabies.

The Wallabies will need no reminder of the threat that Los Pumas pose.

It was only two years ago that the Wallabies were stunned on the Gold Coast by the Argentinians.

The Wallabies, too, will be out to make an impression in the Hunter after a false starts in Newcastle.

It was back in 2012 that the Wallabies were shocked by Scotland on a wet night. That theme continued with the NSW Waratahs, who have lost against the Sunwolves and Blues over the past two years.

Rennie will be out to rectify that on Saturday night.

“As a group, we know respect is earned daily and understand the importance of backing up our last performance with another quality effort on Saturday night," Rennie said.

“The tournament is evenly poised and our fate is in our own hands. We saw how much passion Argentina play with in their performance last weekend and we’re excited by the challenge in Newcastle.”

WALLABIES (1-15): Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Matt Philip, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (c), Harry Wilson, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Tom Wright, Tom Banks

RESERVES: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Valetini, Liam Wright, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu