Australia make seven changes for Autumn Nations Series match against Wales
Ben Donaldson will be handed his first start at fly-half.
Head coach Dave Rennie has made seven changes to Australia’s starting line-up for their Autumn Nations Series match against Wales at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
A week on from the Wallabies’ 13-10 defeat in Ireland – their third loss in as many matches – Ben Donaldson will be handed his first start at fly-half.
Donaldson, favoured over Noah Lolesio, partners Waratah team-mate Jake Gordon, who starts at scrum-half, with Reece Hodge to operate at inside centre for a side ravaged by injuries.
Rennie has only 25 fully-fit players at his disposal on Saturday after captain Michael Hooper became the latest player to fall by the wayside with concussion.
Prop Taniela Tupou is also set to be sidelined for seven months after rupturing his Achilles.
Australia produced a spirited response to their embarrassing loss against Italy a fortnight ago – and came very close to upsetting the majority of a sold-out Aviva Stadium crowd – but this has been a sobering tour.
Following a one-point loss to France in Paris, the Wallabies are bidding to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.
“If you look at wins and losses it will be a poor season,” said Rennie.
“We have had a lot of tight games, and games we should have won. We need to look at that and turn pressure into points at key moments.
“I definitely think we are a better side. We have a lot of firepower to come back in and I have no doubt we can put together a strong side and build on what we have done.
“We can take belief out of the last few weeks, particularly the performances in Dublin and Paris against really strong sides, but we need to be better.
“If we win a couple of key moments, we win a couple of Tests at strong venues, so we will take confidence from that but we need to be better.”
Rennie has also handed Langi Gleeson his first start – replacing the injured Rob Valetini – with Fraser McReight filling in for Hooper at openside flanker.
Wales are chasing a fourth successive victory over the Wallabies, but head coach Wayne Pivac has overseen just three wins from 11 starts this year.
Pivac also goes into Saturday’s clash under the microscope following Georgia’s shock 13-12 victory last weekend.
“We definitely expect a response as they will be hurting, similar to how we were hurting a couple of weeks ago,” added Rennie.
“I have no doubt they are under pressure because it comes down to results. But I am sure they will be highly motivated for a big performance this weekend.”