Australia to blood oldest debutant in 23 years in first Test against England

The Wallabies have picked their oldest debutant this century to face England on Saturday. The 33-year-old Brumbies lock Cadeyrn Neville will pack down for his first cap in the opening game of the eagerly-awaited three-Test series as Australia look to beef up their forward power to counter the touring side’s primary strength.

The 120-kg Neville was first selected in an Australian squad a decade ago but, until now, has never actually made it on to the field. He is the oldest Wallaby to make his debut since Tiaan Strauss in 1999 and the third oldest since the second world war but his impact for the Brumbies in Super Rugby has earned him a deserved call up.

The Japan-based trio of Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete also all feature in the starting XV for a contest that could well set the tone for the entire series. The uncapped hooker Dave Porecki, who spent four years at London Irish, has earned a call-up but a calf injury has, for now, ruled out prop Taniela Tupou

Flanker Michael Hooper will lead his country for the 66th time while the half-back pairing of Nic White and Cooper are reunited for the first time since leading the Wallabies to five straight Test wins in 2021. “The whole squad has worked hard over the past fortnight for what’s going to be a tough three-Test series against a very good England side,” said Australia’s head coach Dave Rennie.

“Earning their first caps is a proud occasion for David, Cadeyrn and their families, with both men taking a unique journey to realise their dream of wearing the Wallabies jersey. The honour of representing our country is a massive motivating factor and we’ll be doing everything we can to put in a performance that makes all Australians proud.”

Australia have lost their last eight Tests against England since Eddie Jones took over as the red rose head coach, including a 3-0 series whitewash in 2016. Lately, though, they have been showing signs of improvement under Rennie and also have a decent record in Perth. They have lost just once in eight Tests played in Western Australia since 2010.

Australia: Banks; Kellaway, Ikitau, Kerevi, Koroibete; Cooper, White; Bell, Porecki, Alaalatoa, Swain, Neville, Leota, Hooper (captain), Valetini. Replacements: Fainga’a, Sio, Slipper, Philip, Gordon, Lolesio, Petaia.


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