Eddie Jones rolls the dice on least experienced Wallabies team since 2003 for Rugby World Cup opener with three shock changes and the most unlikely of debutants
Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has sprung a major selection surprise, naming Ben Donaldson at fullback for Australia’s World Cup opener against Georgia.
Andrew Kellaway has worn the no.15 jersey in the past three Tests, but Donaldson’s goal-kicking ability has proven to be crucial.
It will also be the first time Donaldson – usually a fly-half – has played fullback for the Wallabies.
‘Andrew [Kellaway] is right for selection. We just felt for this game Donno gives us the coverage we need,’ Jones said.
‘He’s been training with us for six to eight weeks mostly at fullback rather than 10.
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Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has sprung a major selection surprise, naming Ben Donaldson at fullback for Australia’s World Cup opener against Georgia
Jones has been impressed by Donaldson’s goal-kicking at training, and backed the 24-year-old to hold his own
‘His goalkicking has been at a high standard, which obviously gives us two (options) for the game.
‘With Nic White off the bench, it gives us three for the game. That’s an area we’ve needed to bolster, hence the selection.’
Elsewhere, Marika Koroibete got the nod over Suliasi Vunivalu for one of the wing spots, and Samu Kerevi will start at inside centre after overcoming a hand complaint.
The forward pack – who were soundly beaten by France last start – remains unchanged.
Jones’s squad is also the least experienced Australian team at a World Cup since the 2003 fixture against Namibia in Adelaide, with a combined 343 Test caps.
17 of the 23 players picked will be playing their first World Cup match.
Wallabies (15-1): Ben Donaldson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Carter Gordon, Tate McDermott, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Tom Hooper, Will Skelton (c), Richie Arnold, Taniela Tupou, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell
Reserves: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Zane Nonggorr, Rob Leota, Langi Gleeson, Nic White, Lalakai Foketi, Suliasi Vunivalu