Talakai set for Wallabies debut

Thu, Nov 24, 2022, 10:44 PM
Rebels Media
by Rebels Media

Melbourne Rebel Sam Talakai is set to make his Wallabies debut after being named in Australia’s Match Day 23 for Sunday morning’s clash with Wales. 

The experienced prop will be joined by Rebels' teammate Reece Hodge in the Wallabies final match of their 2022 Spring Tour. 

The selection caps a memorable two months for Talakai following the Rebels successful Victorian Club Series and Tour of Japan. 

Talakai returned to Melbourne in June, and will bolster the Rebels' front row stocks in the coming season, while his experience of 161 senior matches across two countries will undoubtedly play a crucial role in the development of the Club’s emerging players in 2023. 

Meanwhile, Wallabies Captain, James Slipper, will lead the side as loosehead prop in his 127th appearance for his country, partnering with long-time Brumbies teammates Folau Fainga'a and Allan Alaalatoa in the front row.

The athletic Nick Frost will be looking to continue his breakout debut season at international level, starting at lock alongside workhorse Cadeyrn Neville for the fourth time this year.

Melbourne Rebels stalwart Reece Hodge will again showcase his incredible versatility, named at inside centre for the first time in the Test arena since 2016, partnering with Len Ikitau who will again wear the familiar number 13 jersey in the midfield.

After an impressive performance off the bench in Dublin, Jordan Petaia earns a start on the right wing, linking with Tom Wright who is selected at fullback, while Mark Nawaqanitawase completes the back three on the left edge.

Lachlan Lonergan has been named as the finishing hooker with Force front rower Tom Robertson the replacement loosehead while Rebels journeyman Sam Talakai is in line to become Wallaby number 963 after being selected for a potential debut off the pine as the tighthead cover.

Coonamble-raised Ned Hanigan returns to the game day squad with the versatile Pete Samu selected to cover the backrow, a role he has filled with great impact so far in 2022.

Queensland captain Tate McDermott returns to the side to provide spark as the replacement scrumhalf, while Noah Lolesio will be the finishing playmaker. Jock Campbell rounds out the matchday 23 as the back three cover.

The Wallabies are looking to win at Principality Stadium for the first time since 2017.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: "Ben has had a great year. He's been impressive at training around his skillset and detail and has earned his opportunity to start for his country this week."

"It's a special occasion for Sam and his family. Over the past five weeks he’s impressed us with his diligence and work ethic and deserves the chance to debut on Saturday.

"We're well aware of a Wales side that will be looking to respond after last week but we're equally as motivated to finish our season on a positive note here in Cardiff."

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