Argentina unchanged, Scott Sio back to prop up Wallabies scrum
SYDNEY - Coach Dave Rennie Thursday showed faith with the backline that helped the Wallabies upset the All Blacks, but Scott Sio returns for injured prop James Slipper in their must-win Tri-Nations clash with Argentina.
Slipper's absence was one of three Australian changes, in contrast to the Pumas who will run out in Newcastle on Saturday with the same XV that shocked New Zealand 25-15 in Sydney last week.
Australia upset the All Blacks 24-22 a fortnight ago in Brisbane, with Reece Hodge impressing as playmaker in the absence of James O'Connor and Matt To'omua.
Both those players remain injured with Hodge keeping the No 10 shirt in an unchanged backs combination boasting Nic White, Marika Koroibete, Tom Wright and Tom Banks.
The young Queensland Reds midfield pairing of Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia were also retained as Australia face up to a Pumas side on a high.
But centurion Slipper was ruled out of Saturday's clash with a dislocated elbow, opening the door for Sio to make his first start since last year's World Cup.
Sio, who was a regular starter before Rennie took over, was preferred to 20-year-old Angus Bell, who will again come off the bench.
"After being left out in our last Test we got the reaction we expected from Scott," said Rennie.
"His preparation this week has been excellent and his experience will be invaluable against Argentina."
Ned Hanigan will start at blindside flanker after Lachlan Swinton was sent off on debut in their last match and banned for four weeks.
In the only other change, hulking prop Taniela Tupou takes over from Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa in a bid to help Australia tame an Argentinian forward pack that more than held their own against the All Blacks.
Australia must win on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of lifting the Tri Nations trophy. All three sides have one win so far, but Argentina have a game in hand.
"The tournament is evenly poised and our fate is in our own hands. We saw how much passion Argentina play with in their performance last weekend and we're excited by the challenge in Newcastle," said Rennie.
Unsurprisingly, Pumas coach Mario Ledesma opted not to tinker with the side that beat New Zealand for the first time in 35 years.
It is once again spearheaded by workhorse captain Pablo Matera and Stade Francais playmaker Nicolas Sanchez, who scored all 25 points against the All Blacks.
But Ledesma made three changes to the bench with hooker Santiago Socino, flanker Facundo Isa and centre Emiliano Boffelli in for Facundo Bosch, Tomas Lezana and Lucio Cinti.
15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (capt), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga'a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Valetini, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (capt), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 .Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Emiliano Boffelli, 23 Santiago Cordero.