Jake Gordon and Noah Lolesio will form a new Wallabies halves combination for the opening Test against France in Brisbane on Wednesday night.
- Lachlan Lonergan, Darcy Swain, Len Ikitau and Andrew Kellaway will all make their Wallabies debuts from the bench
- Andrew Kellaway is the biggest surprise after only returning to Melbourne from Japan at the start of the Trans-Tasman series
- Australia’s three-Test series against France starts on Wednesday, with the second Test on July 13 and the final game on July 17
Gordon overcame a knee injury to win the battle with Tate McDermott to wear the vacant halfback jersey at Lang Park, with regular starter Nic White sidelined.
With James O’Connor also injured, Brumbies young gun Lolesio gets his second start after making his Test debut at five-eighth last year against the All Blacks in an unhappy outing with the Wallabies pummelled 43-5.
While Queenslander McDermott impressed on home turf during the Super Rugby AU season, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie instead opted for the mature head of Gordon, who will turn 28 on game eve.
The NSW Waratahs captain injured his knee in the penultimate game of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, putting him in severe doubt for the three-Test France series.
But the injury healed in time for him to earn his second Test start and sixth overall, after being in the XV to face Italy in Padua on Australia’s spring tour in 2018.
Veteran Matt Toomua will line up alongside 21-year-old Lolesio after recovering from a neck injury, joining Hunter Paisami in the centres.
The front row sees Brumbies teammates James Slipper and Allan Alaalatoa as the starting props, with Brandon Paenga-Amosa named at hooker.
Lock Matt Philip returns to the gold jersey after his stint playing in France and will partner Lukhan Salakaia-Loto while Brumbies bruiser Rob Valetini gets his first Test start at blindside flanker.
Skipper Michael Hooper and No.8 Harry Wilson complete the backrow.
Rennie has named four potential Wallabies debutants on the bench in three Brumbies — hooker Lachlan Lonergan, lock Darcy Swain and centre Len Ikitau — and utility Rebels back Andrew Kellaway.
Kellaway, 25, is the biggest surprise after only returning to Melbourne from Japan at the start of the Trans-Tasman competition.
Rennie said the team had prepared well for the France series, which will be completed in just 11 days with the second Test in Melbourne on July 13 before the final Test in Brisbane again on July 17.
“The whole squad has been training really hard over the past three weeks to prepare for what’s going to be an exciting, tough series against the French,” Rennie said.
“We’ve always selected a side based on earning the right to wear the jersey and this team is no different.”
Wallabies: Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Hunter Paisami, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Jake Gordon, Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (c), Rob Valetini, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Matt Philip, Allan Alaalatoa, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper. Res: Lachlan Lonergan, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Darcy Swain, Isi Naisarani, Tate McDermott, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway.