Rennie backs Paisami in Wallabies return

Thu, 21/10/2021, 07:01 am
Melissa Woods - AAP
by Melissa Woods - AAP
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Coach Dave Rennie is expecting the transition from Samu Kerevi to Hunter Paisami to be seamless as the Wallabies prepare for a fast and furious Test against Japan on Saturday.

Kerevi failed to overcome an ankle injury to face the Brave Blossoms in Oita, with Paisami to play his first Test since August as he returns at inside centre.

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Paisami is one of four changes to the starting XV with lock Matt Philip returning, his Rebels teammate Rob Leota recalled at blindside flanker and Tom Wright named on the wing in place of Marika Koroibete, who opted not to tour.

Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney is in line for a potential Test debut after being a surprise inclusion on the bench with Rennie admitting the rake role is wide open.

The blockbusting Kerevi was Australia's best player during the Rugby Championship and was key to their run of four wins over world champions South Africa and Argentina.

He is expected to be available for their next Test against Scotland on November 8, with England and Wales Tests to follow.

But Rennie backed 23-year-old Reds centre Paisami to perform well.

"He will play his own game," Rennie said.

"What we know with Hunter, he's explosive and powerful, he's got a really good skill set so not a lot changes really. 

"He's slotted in really nicely and he's had a full training week over here so we think it will be seamless."

While Petaia started the last Test on the wing, Rennie felt he wasn't up to 80 minutes in the warm conditions under the roof in Oita, which was the scene of their World Cup quarter-final elimination by England in 2019.

"He does give us a fair bit of versatility but we're not convinced that he'd go 80 if he started," Rennie said.

"Japan have picked six loosies (loose forwards) in their pack so we imagine it's going to be a reasonably quick game from their mindset and so we've taken all that into account."

Nic White will again partner Quade Cooper in the halves, while the front row of James Slipper, Taniela Tupou and hooker Folau Fainga'a will line up for their fourth consecutive match.

Slipper is set to surpass former teammates Will Genia and Sekope Kepu and join George Smith on 111 Tests for Australia when he runs on.


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Rennie said they still hadn't worked out if Cooper and fellow Japan-based Sean McMahon will be available for the UK leg of the tour due to club commitments despite the game falling within the international window.

"Our intention is to take them to Europe," Rennie said.

"We're trying to come to a resolution that suits everyone."

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