Tupou a Wallabies weapon off the bench

Powerful prop Taniela Tupou will be used as a second-half weapon against France on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium before a likely return to the starting pack for the second Test of the series next week in Melbourne.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has opted to start with Brumbies tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa for the first Test but has big plans for Reds star Tupou during the condensed three-match series that continues next Tuesday at AAMI Park before concluding in Brisbane on Saturday week.

“Those guys (Alaalatoa and Tupou) will share the load,” Rennie said.

“We’re fortunate to have two high-quality tightheads.

“What we know is that ‘Nella’ coming off the bench late in the game (with) his scrummaging, his ball carrying … he can make a real impact.”

Taniela Tupou will be crucial for Australia off the bench at Suncorp Stadium. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby AustraliaSource:Getty Images

Alaalatoa’s Brumbies teammate James Slipper will start at loosehead prop, while Brandon Paenga-Amosa, who was part of Queensland’s 2021 Super Rugby AU title-winning side, has been chosen at hooker.

As reported, Waratahs halfback Jake Gordon, having made a full recovery from a knee injury, will start ahead of his Reds counterpart Tate McDermott.

“What Jake has over Tate is core skills – the quality of his kicking game, the quality of his distribution,” Rennie said.

“Jake’s a very good running halfback as well.

“Tate we know is electric off the bench. That’s going to be important and hopefully against some tiring forwards.”

Gordon will partner youngster Noah Lolesio in the halves after Reds captain James O’Connor failed to overcome a groin strain.

“James struggled to respond quickly. We’ve just been gearing him up to see if he can come right in time for the second (Test),” Rennie said.

“We’re very happy with Noah. He’s trained really well.

“We’ve always selected a side based on earning the right to wear the jersey, and this team is no different.

“This last seven days we’ve had less time on the feet and done a lot of repetition, a lot of clarity to give us every opportunity to fire from the first whistle. That’s the expectation.”

Lolesio’s inexperience will be countered by the presence of Rebels leader Matt To’omua at inside centre.

The experienced Matt To’omua will start at inside centre for the Wallabies. Picture: Phil Walter/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“He’s played 50-odd Tests, he understands the importance of voice from (the number) 12 (position), and he’ll certainly been giving that to Noah, and he’s got a really good skills set there whether it’s carry, tackle, kick or pass,” said Rennie of To’omua, who will partner Reds star Hunter Paisami in the centres.

“That’s a good combination for us.”

There will be four potential Wallabies debutants on Wednesday night, with Lachlan Lonergan, Darcy Swain, Len Ikitau and Andrew Kellaway all named on the bench.

Wallabies: James Slipper, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Allan Alaalatoa, Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper, Harry Wilson, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Marika Koroibete, Matt To’omua, Hunter Paisami, Tom Wright, Tom Banks. Bench: Lachlan Lonergan, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Darcy Swain, Isi Naisarani, Tate McDermott, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway.

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