Michael Hooper to become Wallabies' most-capped captain

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Australia coach Dave Rennie has promoted Nic White and Taniela Tupou to the starting side for the Wallabies' second consecutive Rugby Championship test against South Africa in what will also be a historic match for captain Michael Hooper.

White comes into the side for Tate McDermott, who goes back to the bench, while Tupou will replace Allan Alaalatoa after the ACT Brumbies prop returned to Canberra for the birth of his child.

Hooper will become the Wallabies' most-capped captain when he leads the side out for the 60th time on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium in his 113th game for Australia since making his debut in 2012. George Gregan held the previous captaincy mark.

Australia is coming off a 28-26 win over the Springboks last Sunday when flyhalf Quade Cooper kicked a penalty goal after the siren sounded. It was South Africa’s first loss of the championship and left New Zealand, which plays Argentina again as part of a Saturday doubleheader at Suncorp, as the only unbeaten team.

"It’s an incredible milestone for Hoops on Saturday evening in Brisbane and it’s a testament to him as a person and a player,” Rennie said. “I’ve been so impressed with his leadership both on and off the field and his drive to be better every day."

The 29-year-old Hooper first captained Australia as a 22-year-old in 2014.

In other changes, James Slipper returns to the starting side after coming off the bench in last week’s win. On the bench, Western Force prop Tom Robertson is in line for his first appearance since 2018, joined by club teammate Feleti Kaitu’u after his strong debut.

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber made two changes to his starting lineup when he named his team Wednesday. The Springboks will be without key lineout forward Lood de Jager because of concussion protocols and his place will be taken by Marvin Orie. Nienaber brought loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane in to start for Steven Kitshoff in the only other change.

“They’re big and they’ll be angry and no doubt it’s going to hurt this weekend,” former Wallabies fullback Chris Latham said of South Africa. “I don’t think they’ll change much from their game plan, I just think their execution will be far better.”

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Teams:

Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper (captain), Lachlan Swinton, Matt Philip, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper. Reserves: Feleti Kaitu’u, Angus Bell, Tom Robertson, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Marvin Orie, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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