Rebels duo Carter Gordon and Rob Leota named in Wallabies opener

Thu, Sep 7, 2023, 11:53 PM
Rebels Media
by Rebels Media

Carter Gordon and Rob Leota will make their World Cup debut after being selected in the Wallabies Match Day 23 for Sunday morning’s clash against Georgia.

Joining the Rebels’ duo is new signing Taniela Tupou, who will make his 50th appearance for the Wallabies. In a sign of the side’s regeneration under coach Eddie Jones, 17 of the matchday 23 will play in their first ever Rugby World Cup match, with the team averaging just 19 total Test caps.

With a total of 343 Test caps in the team, it is the fewest for Australia at a Rugby World Cup since the 2003 fixture against Namibia in Adelaide (283).

Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones said: “The Rugby World Cup is the biggest stage in the world and the players can see the opportunity that’s ahead of them over the next eight weeks.”

“With the youngest team at the Rugby World Cup the excitement level in the group is high and we’ve had a good preparation for the tournament working hard on our game.

“All 20 teams are at the starting line now and it’s important we get off to a fast start against Georgia on Saturday night.”

Will Skelton will captain the team, at a sold-out Stade de France, with Jones selecting an unchanged forward pack from the side that played France at the same venue just 11 days ago.

Strike centre Samu Kerevi has recovered from a hand injury to return to the starting side in the number 12 jersey, partnering with Jordan Petaia in the midfield who starts at outside centre.

Petaia having made his Test debut in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. The front row sees Angus Bell looking to continue his impressive return from injury as the starting loosehead prop, with his NSW teammate David Porecki at hooker and Tupou at tighthead.

Skelton will partner Richie Arnold in the second row, with a youthful backrow of Tom Hooper, Fraser McReight and Rob Valetini the loose forward trio. Vice-captain Tate McDermott will start at scrumhalf and will continue to build on his combination with fellow Sunshine Coast local Carter Gordon in the halves.

The versatile Ben Donaldson has earned his first Test start at fullback, with club teammate Mark Nawaqanitawase on the right wing, and Marika Koroibete on the left edge in his 56th appearance for Australia.

Toowoomba-born Matt Faessler will be the finishing hooker, with last Test’s debutant Blake Schoupp and Zane Nonggorr the finishing props, for what will be just the second ever meeting between the two countries, with the Wallabies defeating Georgia 27-8 in Japan during the 2019 tournament.

Rebels leader Rob Leota and Manly junior Langi Gleeson will be the remaining finishing cover for the forwards. Nic White will provide experience as the finishing scrumhalf, with Lalakai Foketi and Suliasi Vunivalu rounding out the matchday 23.

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Wallabies team to play Georgia at Stade de France, Paris on Saturday 9 September, 6:00pm CET/2:00am Sunday AEST

1. Angus Bell (24 Tests)

2. David Porecki (15 Tests)

3. Taniela Tupou (49 Tests)

4. Richie Arnold (5 Tests)

5. Will Skelton (c) (29 Tests)

6. Tom Hooper (4 Tests)

7. Fraser McReight (13 Tests)

8. Rob Valetini (35 Tests)

9. Tate McDermott (vc) (26 Tests)

10. Carter Gordon (5 Tests)

11. Marika Koroibete (55 Tests)

12. Samu Kerevi (45 Tests)

13. Jordan Petaia (28 Tests)

14. Mark Nawaqanitawase (7 Tests)

15. Ben Donaldson (3 Tests)

Finishers 16. Matt Faessler (2 Tests) 17. Blake Schoupp (1 Test) 18. Zane Nonggorr (3 Tests) 19. Rob Leota (17 Tests) 20. Langi Gleeson (4 Tests) 21. Nic White (63 Tests) 22. Lalakai Foketi (6 Tests) 23. Suliasi Vunivalu (3 Tests)