Inspirational Leali'ifano to return for Wallabies vs Pumas
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Flyhalf Christian Leali'ifano is set to return to play his first test in more than three years after recovering from leukemia in one of five changes to Australia's starting lineup for Saturday's Rugby Championship encounter against Argentina.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has also made five changes to his reserves in the wake of last weekend's 35-17 loss to South Africa in Johannesburg, drafting in utility back James O'Connor for the first time in almost six years.
Scott Sio's return in the front row is the only change to the starting forward pack. The 55-test veteran missed the South Africa match because of an injured hamstring.
Scrumhalf Will Genia, Leali'ifano, winger Marika Koroibete and Kurtley Beale will all start in a new-look backline as Cheika continues to experiment with his combinations before the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.
Genia is set to play his last international game in his hometown of Brisbane following his decision to retire from test rugby at the end of 2019. The Wallabies have won 10 of 12 matches in Brisbane with Genia in the lineup.
O'Connor has been included among the reserves within weeks of re-signing for the Queensland Reds. He missed selection for the Johannesburg test despite training with the squad in South Africa.
Australia has lost just one of its last eight games against Argentina, although that defeat came at home last year on the Gold Coast.
Australia: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Leali'ifano, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Folau Fainga'a, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Michael Hooper (captain), Isi Naisarani. Reserves: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Luke Jones, Nic White, Matt To'omua, James O'Connor.