Australian rugby, Dave Rennie, Tolu Latu, Kurtley Beale, Michael Hooper, video highlights

A fortnight is a long time in rugby, just ask Dave Rennie.

In the space of two weeks the Wallabies’ season turned on its head after consecutive victories against the Springboks that paved the way for a five-match winning streak.

Now after back to back defeats, Rennie is hoping to end his season on a high against Wales at the Principality Stadium he hopes gives the Wallabies “belief” heading into the summer off-season.

The final team naming of the year always is a curious one, but after being brought back down to Earth in the United Kingdom Rennie has named his strongest possible side to take on the Six Nations champions.

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A day after World Rugby announced a new initiative to support their fight against concussion in London, Rennie recalled his two outstanding tight-head props after missing the 32-15 defeat at Twickenham.

In brighter news too, Taniela Tupou, the wrecking ball that could still turn into the most dominant front-row forward in the world if allowed to develop as a starting prop, has been named to start in one of four changes to the starting side. Allan Alaalatoa will come off the bench.

As forecast, Tolu Latu will start at hooker and be asked to go hard at the ball with captain Michael Hooper missing, which also sees Pete Samu as predicted start at openside flanker.

“Obviously we’re keen to find out a lot about these boys who have come in,” Rennie told reporters, with the Wallabies out to deny Wales three straight wins over them for the first time since 1975.

“We think he’ll give us a bit of an edge physically, particularly with Hoops not playing, having an on-ball presence at No.2 will complement what Pete Samu can give us. That was a big part of the thinking.”

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There is just one change to the backline, with Filipo Daugunu – another who gets on the ball and can provide dynamism across the park – returning following his broken arm suffered against France in June and replaces Tom Wright, who drops back to the bench.

“Filipo’s trained really well, we contemplated putting him in the mix last week,” Rennie said.

“He deserves a crack and gets that this week.”

Interestingly, Will Skelton remains on the bench, where he has been included alongside Waratahs hardman Lachie Swinton.


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Australia’s New Zealand head coach Dave Rennie wants his side to finish the season to gain some belief. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

Rennie said at no stage did he consider starting Skelton throughout the November Tests, believing he could be best used off the bench to cause carnage just as he had done so during his successful stint for Saracens in the English Premiership.

“When I was coaching over here, Saracens consistently used him off the bench,” Rennie admitted.

“He’d come in with 20-25 to go and have a massive impact in the game. That was always our thinking.

“Rods (Izack Rodda) runs our lineout, so he’s an important cog in that.

“I think those guys are getting better and better, they’ve got their head around what we’re doing, certainly have presence on the field and the frustrating thing about last week was we just couldn’t hang onto the ball long enough to utilise Will to carry and give us so go-forward.”

Pete Samu (L) will wear the No.7 jersey for the first time for the Wallabies following Michael Hooper’s injury. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Lalakai Foketi is in-line to make his debut off the bench after replacing his Waratahs midfield teammate Izaia Perese.

Fullback Kurtley Beale will cover James O’Connor at playmaker.

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