ST ETIENNE, France: Former captain Michael Hooper will return to the Australian squad for the first time since July when they face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, coach Dave Rennie announced on Thursday.
Hooper asked to return home when the Wallabies were in Argentina at the start of the Rugby League three months ago and later explained it was because of family and mental health issues.
He has missed all six Rugby League matches but returns to the flank for the first of five Tests in Europe as the Wallabies prepare strongly ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.
James Slipper continues as captain with Hooper to earn a 122nd cap in a revamped loose trio after Wallaby’s last clash, a 40-14 loss to New Zealand in Auckland on September 24, with Jed Holloway selected on the blind flank and Rob Valetini stepping back to number eight.
There are also returns to the starting lineup for Tate McDermott at scrum-half, partnered with Bernard Foley who was brought back during the Rugby Championship after a three-year absence to provide more options at the fly-half. .
Tom Banks starts at the back after making a successful comeback with a broken arm on the Australia A tour of Japan with Andrew Kellaway moved to the right wing.
“We are delighted for Hoops. He has been exceptional both on and off the pitch since his reintegration into the environment and he cannot wait to get the gold jersey again,” Rennie said in a statement naming the Australian training base squad. in France.
“The same for Tate who has worked very hard and deserves his chance to start, while Banksy has shown resilience to come back from another serious injury to earn his place in the team.”
Hunter Paisami returns to inside center while Nick Frost makes his second start, partnering ACT Brumbies teammate Cadeyrn Neville in the second row.
Queensland full-back Jock Campbell is in line for his Test debut, named on the substitutes bench
Australia play France, Italy, Ireland and Wales on successive weekends after Saturday’s test.
Team: 15-Tom Banks, 14-Andrew Kellaway, 13-Len Ikitau, 12-Hunter Paisami, 11-Tom Wright, 10-Bernard Foley, 9-Tate McDermott, 8-Rob Valetini, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Jed Holloway, 5-Cadeyrn Neville 4-Nick Frost, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Dave Porecki, 1-James Slipper (captain)
Substitutions: 16-Folau Fainga’a, 17-Matt Gibbon, 18-Taniela Tupou, 19-Ned Hanigan, 20-Pete Samu, 21-Nic White, 22-Noah Lolesio, 23-Jock Campbell.