Ex-Ulster player, Christian Lealiifano, has been named in the Wallabies side for the first time since 2016.
Lealiifano’s last appearance for Australia came in the 2016 Rugby Championships, however, he was diagnosed with leukaemia weeks later which forced him into an extended break from rugby.
Amazingly, Lealiifano returned to Super Rugby action with the Brumbies just 11 months after being diagnosed before going on to have a stint in Ulster during the 2017/2018 season.
He impressed throughout his time in Ulster making 17 starting appearances across the Guinness PRO 14 and the Champions Cup. The out-half then had a spell in Japan before returning to the Brumbies where he has been playing the last two seasons.
Michael Cheika has rewarded Lealiifano for his impressive club form by handing him the number 10 jersey for this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash with Argentina giving the former Ulster man a real chance to stake a claim ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Cheika has made five changes following a poor start to their campaign last week when they fell to a 35-17 defeat to the Springboks with Will Genia coming in alongside Lealiifano in the half-back position in place of Bernard Foley and Nic White. Marika Koroibete and Kurtley Beale come in at left-wing and full-back respectively while Scott Sio is the only change in the forwards at loosehead prop.
In other news, the much-maligned, James O’Connor has been named among the Australian replacements for the clash with Argentina.
The 29-year-old recently returned to Australia from Sale Sharks in the hope of reigniting his international career. O’Connor, who made his test debut at 18, has been involved in a number of unsavoury incidents down through the years including being arrested in Paris for attempting to buy cocaine as well as being drunk and disorderly in Perth Airport back in 2013, an incident that saw him shunned by Rugby Australia.
He has not been capped since that incident and has spent the last number of years in Europe with London Irish, Toulon and Sale Sharks sandwiched in between a short stint at the Queensland Reds where he has returned to once more.
The Pumas also make five changes to the side that narrowly lost to New Zealand 20-16 last weekend. They will be without their captain and hooker, Agustin Creevy with Julian Montoya coming in to replace him while Facundo Isa and Tomas Lezana come into the back-row.
In the backs, Santiago Cordero is named on the right-wing while Joaquin Tuculet is set to start at full-back.
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Tevita Kurdirani 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Will Genia, 1 Scott Sio, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 3 Sekope Kepu, 4 Izack Rodda, 5 Rory Arnold, 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 8 Isi Naisarani
16 Tolu Latu, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Luke Jones, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 James O’Connor
15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Julian Montoya, 3 Juan Figallo, 4 Guido Petti, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 7 Tomas Lezana, 8 Facundo Isa
16 Santiago Socini, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Matias Orlando