James O’Connor will make his long awaited Wallabies return against Argentina on Saturday but Sean McMahon will be straining on the leash for another week.
Veteran O’Connor hasn’t played for Australia this year after picking up a groin injury in Super Rugby trans-Tasman.
In his absence Quade Cooper has re-emerged as the chief Wallabies playmaker and coach Dave Rennie has opted to reintroduce O’Connor from the bench against Los Pumas for the round five Rugby Championship clash in Townsville.
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McMahon, who hasn’t played for the Wallabies since 2017, does not even make the reserves despite impressing at training after emerging from hotel quarantine.
Instead Rebels bruiser Rob Leota will make his first Test start at blindside flanker in place of Lachie Swinton.
Swinton was yellow carded in Australia’s 30-17 win over South Africa last weekend.
Swinton cops controversial yellow card
“It’s a really proud moment for Rob and his family to earn his first start in Wallaby gold and we’re all rapt for him,” Rennie said.
“He’s really impressed us with his work ethic on and off the field and worked hard for this opportunity.
“It’s been fantastic to connect with the Townsville community this week ahead of the first ever Test here and we’re determined to build on the past couple of performances on Saturday night.”
WALLABIES (15-1): Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper (c), Rob Leota, Matt Philip, Azack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper
Reserves: Feleti Kaitu’u, Angus Bell, Tom Robertson, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor, Jordan Petaia