Bernard Foley has been recalled to Australia's starting line-up at fly-half for the final round Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Salta on Saturday, while Pumas coach Mario Ledesma has made seven changes to his 23-man squad.
Argentina lost 35-17 to the All Blacks last weekend in Buenos Aires. One of the biggest names returning for the Pumas on Saturday is winger Ramiro Moyano, who sustained a rib injury in their last match against the Wallabies and missed the New Zealand test. The national team beat Australia 23-19 on the Gold Coast last month.
A loss Saturday would leave the Wallabies last in the Rugby Championship for the first time. New Zealand has already clinched the title and South Africa will finish second, regardless of the outcome of their match in Pretoria on Saturday.
Delguy misses out
Argentina welcome back Moyano but must do without fellow winger Bautista Delguy in Salta.
A rib injury ruled Moyano out of the home loss to New Zealand last Saturday, robbing the Pumas of an elusive runner who had scored two tries in the Championship this season. But the joy of having him back in the starting line-up has been diluted by the loss of Delguy with a shoulder injury sustained against the All Blacks.
Delguy has also made a major impact on the southern hemisphere championship by scoring three tries, including two in a home victory over South Africa. Along with full-back Emiliano Boffelli, Delguy and Moyano have formed a dynamic trio, lessening the blow of having to do without long-term injury victim Joaquín Tuculet.
The absence of Delguy has triggered a backline reshuffle with two personnel and two positional changes from the side beaten 35-17 by New Zealand in Buenos Aires. Moyano comes in on the left wing and Matías Moroni switches from there to the right wing in place of Delguy.
Matías Orlando is promoted from the bench to outside centre, Jerónimo de la Fuente moves from outside to inside centre and Bautista Ezcurra drops out of the matchday 23. There are two changes to the bench with utility back Santiago González Iglesias and prop Santiago Garcia Botta called up in place of promoted Orlando and demoted Juan Pablo Zeiss.
The Pumas will finish third ahead of the Wallabies provided they avoid defeat in northwestern city of Salta.
Tradition offers struggling Australia hope, however, as they have won four of five previous Championship matches in Argentina.
Foley, who returns, had been benched for the last three tests as coach Michael Cheika explored an alternative playmaking partnership of Kurtley Beale at No. 10 and Matt Toomua at inside center. Beale will shift to No. 12 against Argentina and Toomua drops to the bench.
They are the only changes from the starting XV defeated 23-12 by South Africa in Port Elizabeth last weekend, a result that reduced Australia's record this year to two wins from 10 games.Cheika said it was not Toomua's form that caused the changes, preferring Beale's running game at inside center, and adding Foley's response to being dropped had forced his way back into the team.
"I think he reacted to being left out with just turning up his own involvement around the team as a whole," Cheika said on Thursday. "The playmakers have a really important role in driving everybody else, and I think Foley since he's been left out has taken that on board."Prop Scott Sio will appear in his 50th test for the Wallabies, while flanker Michael Hooper again captains the side on his 86th appearance.
Argentina team to play Australia in Salta on Saturday (kick-off 18.40 hrs):
Team (15-1): Emiliano Boffelli; Matías Moroni, Matías Orlando, Jerónimo de la Feunte, Ramiro Moyano; Nicolás Sánchez, Gonzalo Bertranou; Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera; Tomás Lavanini, Guido Petti; Ramiro Herrera, Agustín Creevy (capt), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: Julian Montoya, Santiago García Botta, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Tomás Cubelli, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Sebastián Cancelliere
Coach: Mario Ledesma (ARG)
Australia teamfor the Rugby Championship final-round match:
Team (15-1): Dane Haylett-Petty; Israel Folau, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; David Pocock, Michael Hooper (capt), Ned Hanigan; Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda; Taniela Tupou, Folau Faingaa, Scott Sio
Replacements (one to be omitted): Tolu Latu, Sekope Kepu, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Rory Arnold, Caleb Timu, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Tom Banks
Coach: Michael Cheika (AUS)