Rugby

Tupou’s comeback confirmed as Jones selects 13 Wallabies in Aus A team for Tonga, surprise choice at No.8

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While most eyes will be on the Wallabies’ clash against Argentina on Saturday, one day earlier in Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa a key piece of Eddie Jones’ puzzle will return to the playing field after Taniela Tupou was named to start.

The giant prop was taken to South Africa last week for the Wallabies’ first-up loss to South Africa but didn’t play, with Jones deciding to wrap the key forward in cotton wool for another week.

It was a smart decision because as Allan Alaalatoa found out, Tests against the Springboks on the Highveld are no places to be eased back, particularly one coming back from a ruptured Achilles.

Tupou is one of 13 players named in Australia’s A team, with Jason Gilmore able to call upon a Wallabies-esque tight-five with Folau Fainga’a, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Cadeyrn Neville also named.

Interestingly, Seru Uru will start ahead of Harry Wilson at No.8.

It’s thought that Wilson’s huge workload for the Reds has played against him, with the well-liked back-rower building a perception of quantity over quality after being his Super Rugby side’s only ball-carrying option.

Taniela Tupou of the Wallabies charges forward

Taniela Tupou will make his comeback against Tonga. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Bernard Foley will captain the side and form a recognised halves pairing alongside former teammate Jake Gordon, while James O’Connor has been named at inside centre.

Jock Campbell has been named at fullback while speedster Corey Toole has been named on the left-wing.

Lachlan Lonergan and Ned Hanigan have been named on a strong bench that also includes Force livewire Issak Fines-Leleiwasa and Josh Flook.

Seru Uru will start in the No.8 jersey ahead of Reds teammate Harry Wilson. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

While Gilmore is the head coach, it can be revealed that Jones selected the team more than a week ago.

His selection gives more insight into his thinking regarding the Wallabies, with selection fierce ahead of September’s World Cup.

“Preparation has been good, the boys have been excellent and I think we’re looking pretty sound,” Gilmore said in a statement.

“It’s great to have a few of our Tongan boys like Nela and Folau over here with us – we had a great reception at the airport and we’re looking forward to a really special game for all our boys, in particular those with Tongan heritage.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who have captained at Super Rugby level and a lot of natural leadership around the squad but we think Bernard is a great choice to lead.

“He’s got a lot of experience, played at Two World Cups and just led Kubota to a win over in Japan – he’s in form and will do a good job for us.”

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