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Hodge at 15, Lolesio at 10 for Wallabies Test against Boks

Experienced fullback Reece Hodge was on Thursday recalled to start the Wallabies’ Test against world champions South Africa in Adelaide on Saturday.

Hodge was asked to deal with an expected aerial assault from the Springboks in the Rugby Championship match as coach Dave Rennie rang the changes.

The 57-Test utility Hodge comes in for Tom Wright after the Wallabies’ struggles under the high ball in a demoralising defeat to Argentina in San Juan just under a fortnight ago.

Hodge was one of six changes to the side that lost 48-17 with Wright shifting back to the right wing and Marika Koroibete on his familiar left for the clash in Adelaide.  

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Noah Lolesio was handed another chance in the problematic playmaker position at flyhalf with Quade Cooper injured and James O’Connor axed from the squad after starting in the last Test.

Wallabies Lolesio
Noah Lolesio will be at No 10 for the Wallabies against the Boks. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

The 22-year-old Lolesio was used by Rennie in all three Tests against England this year but then made way for Cooper, with O’Connor then preferred.

Veteran flyhalf Bernard Foley, who hasn’t played for the Wallabies since the 2019 World Cup but was a shock recall to the squad, failed to make the match-day 23.

“It’s great to have a number of experienced players back in the mix this weekend,” said Rennie. 

“We understand that respect is earned daily and we get an opportunity to earn it against the current world champions on Saturday afternoon.”

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Nic White is again at scrumhalf, with inside centre Hunter Paisami returning to the starting team in place of Lalakai Foketi, reigniting his midfield combination with Len Ikitau.

After leaving Argentina early for a family bereavement, Allan Alaalatoa is back at tighthead prop alongside returning hooker Folau Fainga’a and James Slipper.

The 119-Test veteran Slipper skippers the side again in the absence of Michael Hooper, who is on mental health leave.

Matt Philip replaces Darcy Swain in the second row alongside Rory Arnold, with the back row of Jed Holloway, Fraser McReight and Rob Valetini unchanged.

Assistant coach Dan McKellar said he expected the team to rise to the challenge.

“We were pretty filthy about how we performed in San Juan,” he said.

“You’ve got two choices, bitch and moan and blame others or stick tight, stick together and take on board the feedback.”

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Reece Hodge; Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Marika Koroibete; Noah Lolesio, Nic White; Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight; Jed Holloway, Matt Philip, Rory Arnold; Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper (capt). Bench: David Porecki, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou, Darcy Swain, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Andrew Kellaway

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