Reigning Melbourne Rebels Players’ Player, Brad Wilkin, has been named in Australia A’s Match Day 23 for Saturday’s opening clash against a Japan XV in Tokyo.
Wilkin was rewarded following a stellar 2022 campagin, where he played every match of the Super Rugby Pacific season, leading the Rebels in tackles made and turnovers won.
The twenty-six-year-old joins Spirit of Weary Dunlop recipient, James Tuttle, and starting prop Matt Gibbon, who returns to Australian A after making his Wallabies debut against Argentina last August.
Meanwhile scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan once again will lead the side as they look to build from their second-place finish in the Pacific Nations Cup in July.
Lonergan is joined in the halves by Waratahs flyhalf Ben Donaldson, eager to continue his breakout season, with Gilmore confirming Tane Edmed will likely get a shot in the second Test.
Suliasi Vunivalu will get his chance to shine, selected on the wing in an all-Reds back-three as he partners Filipo Daugunu and Jock Campbell.
Gilmore has kept a relatively settled front-row from their last match against Tonga, with Brumbies hooker Lachlan Lonergan coming in to partner Matt Gibbon and Tom Robertson.
Wallabies Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville form an imposing second-row, with Ned Hanigan making his return from injury with Ollie Callan and Langi Gleeson in the back row.
Force centre Bayley Kuenzle will make his first appearance in the Australia A side, partnering Brumby Hudson Creighton.
Exciting Brumbies hooker Billy Pollard headlines the replacements off the bench alongside Archer Holz and Harry Hoopert.
Gilmore also confirmed Tom Banks will be likely used in some capacity in the second Test, still recovering from a broken arm.
Every game of the Australia A tour of Japan will be streamed live and available on demand on Stan Sport.
Australia A team to play Japan at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday 1 October, 7:00pm JST/8:00pm AEST