Eddie Jones makes changes for tough assignment against unbeaten All Blacks.
Twenty-two year-old Carter Gordon will start in Wallaby gold for the first time at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against New Zealand on Saturday night.
Wearing the number ten jersey, Gordon will partner fellow Sunshine Coast product Tate McDermott in the halves in what will be the first Test at the iconic venue since 2007.
It’s one of a number of changes to the side, with another Queenslander, Jordan Petaia [pictured below] returning to the team at outside centre, having fully recovered from a wrist injury to partner Samu Kerevi in the midfield.
Andrew Kellaway will also play his first Test of the year at fullback alongside Marika Koroibete and Mark Nawaqanitawase named on the wings, with the Wallabies set to wear their First Nations jersey for the first time in Melbourne this weekend.
Angus Bell’s strong performance as a finisher against Argentina in Sydney a fortnight ago has seen him change roles with James Slipper against New Zealand, linking up with hooker David Porecki and tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa who have started both games so far this Test season.
Athletic lock Nick Frost returns to the second row to partner Will Skelton, while the dynamic Tom Hooper returns from shoulder injury to start at openside flanker in a new look back row that features Jed Holloway at blindside flanker and Rob Valetini at number eight.
Melbourne’s own Jordan Uelese will again be the finishing hooker with captain James Slipper to bring experience from the pine as the finishing loosehead prop. Taniela Tupou will also make his return to the Test arena as the finishing tighthead prop after a successful return from a ruptured Achilles for Australia A against Tonga.
Richie Arnold will bring impact in the second row, while Rob Leota will again play in front of his home town, named as the finisher for the back row.
The experience of Nic White and Quade Cooper will be called upon as the finishing playmakers, while the abrasive Izaia Perese rounds out the matchday 23 in what will be his first Test of 2023.
The Wallabies hold a 2-1 winning record over New Zealand at the venue and are expecting a crowd of 80,000 on Saturday night.
Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones said: “We are a team that wants to make Australia proud and Saturday night is a great opportunity to light up the MCG.”
“A young starting 15 and vibrant, experienced finishers will give us the 80 minutes we want.
“Wallaby Rugby versus New Zealand Rugby, it’s the most important game of the year.”
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Wallabies team to play New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne on Saturday 29 July, 7:55pm AEST
1. Angus Bell (21 Tests)
2. David Porecki (12 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (acting captain) (66 Tests)
4. Nick Frost (10 Tests)
5. Will Skelton (26 Tests)
6. Jed Holloway (11 Tests)
7. Tom Hooper (1 Test)
8. Rob Valetini (32 Tests)
9. Tate McDermott (23 Tests)
10. Carter Gordon (2 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (53 Tests)
12. Samu Kerevi (43 Tests)
13. Jordan Petaia (25 Tests)
14. Mark Nawaqanitawase (4 Tests)
15. Andrew Kellaway (21 Tests)
16. Jordan Uelese (17 Tests)
17. James Slipper (129 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (47 Tests)
19. Richie Arnold (2 Tests)
20. Rob Leota (14 Tests)
21. Nic White (61 Tests)
22. Quade Cooper (78 Tests)
23. Izaia Perese (3 Tests)