Rugby-Paisami returns to Wallabies for Japan test, Kerevi injured


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - England v Australia - Oita Stadium, Oita, Japan - October 19, 2019 Australia's Samu Kerevi in action REUTERS/Edgar Su

(Reuters) -Hunter Paisami has been recalled for Australia's test against Japan, replacing Samu Kerevi at inside centre after the explosive midfielder failed to overcome an ankle injury for Saturday's clash in Oita.

Tom Wright has replaced Jordan Petaia on the wing after a lively cameo off the bench in the 32-17 win over Argentina on the Gold Coast three weeks ago.

Rob Leota slots in at blindside flanker, pushing Pete Samu onto the bench, while lock Matt Philip has been promoted to partner with Izack Rodda in the second row in the other change to Dave Rennie's starting 15.

Since leaving the squad for the birth of his daughter, Paisami has had to bide his time to break back into the side, with Kerevi dominant through most of the Rugby Championship.

"He’ll play his own game, he’s explosive and powerful," Rennie said of the Queensland Reds tyro.

"Not a whole lot changes really ... We think it will be seamless."

ACT Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney will hope to make his test debut off the bench, having replaced Lachlan Lonergan as Rennie continues to experiment with players in the Wallabies' most vexing position.

"Connal’s strong set piece and all-around game has earned him a chance to represent his country, which is a proud moment for him and his family," said Rennie.

Tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa returns to the matchday squad in place of Greg Holmes.

Australia will bid for a fifth straight win on Saturday after finishing the Rugby Championship with back-to-back victories over both the Pumas and world champions South Africa.

The Wallabies then head to Britain for November tests against Scotland, England and Wales but have not worked out whether they will have their Japan-based flyhalf Quade Cooper, Kerevi and loose forward Sean McMahon due to the players' club requirements.

"We’re trying to come to a resolution that suits everyone," said Rennie.

Though Kerevi missed out for Saturday, Rennie said the Fiji-born midfielder would be fit for Scotland at Murrayfield on Nov. 8 if made available.

Team: 15-Reece Hodge, 14-Tom Wright, 13-Len Ikitau, 12-Hunter Paisami, 11-Andrew Kellaway, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Nic White, 8-Rob Valetini, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Rob Leota, 5-Matt Philip, 4-Izack Rodda, 3-Taniela Tupou, 2-Folau Fainga'a, 1-James Slipper

Replacements: 16-Connal McInerney, 17-Angus Bell, 18-Allan Alaalatoa, 19-Darcy Swain, 20-Pete Samu, 21-Tate McDermott, 22-James O'Connor, 23-Jordan Petaia.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Lincoln Feast.)

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