Hodge still Australia's top 10 as Argentina await

Sydney (AFP) –


Coach Dave Rennie Thursday showed faith with the backline that helped the Wallabies upset the All Blacks, but injured prop James Slipper will be missing for their Tri Nations clash with Argentina.

Australia stunned New Zealand 24-22 a fortnight ago in Brisbane, with Reece Hodge impressing as playmaker in the absence of James O'Connor and Matt To'omua.

Both those players remain injured with Hodge keeping the number 10 shirt in an unchanged backs combination boasting Nic White, Marika Koroibete, Tom Wright and Tom Banks.

The young Queensland Reds midfield pairing of Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia were also retained as Australia face up to a Pumas side on a high after also shocking New Zealand 25-15 in Sydney last week.

But centurion Slipper was ruled out of Saturday's clash in Newcastle with a dislocated elbow, opening the door for Scott Sio to make his first start since last year's World Cup.

Sio, who has played 66 Tests and was a regular starter before Rennie took over, was preferred to 20-year-old Angus Bell, who will again come off the bench.

"After being left out in our last Test we got the reaction we expected from Scott," said Rennie.

"His preparation this week has been excellent and his experience will be invaluable against Argentina."

Ned Hanigan will start at blindside flanker after Lachlan Swinton was sent off on debut in their last match and banned for four weeks.

In the only other change, hulking prop Taniela Tupou takes over from Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa in a bid to help Australia tame an Argentinian forward pack that more than held their own against the All Blacks.

Australia must win on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of lifting the Tri Nations trophy. All three sides have one win so far, but Argentina have a game in hand.

"As a group, we know respect is earned daily and understand the importance of backing up our last performance with another quality effort on Saturday night," said Rennie.

"The tournament is evenly poised and our fate is in our own hands. We saw how much passion Argentina play with in their performance last weekend and we're excited by the challenge in Newcastle."

Australia (15-1)

Tom Banks; Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Marika Koroibete; Reece Hodge, Nic White; Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (capt), Ned Hanigan; Matt Philip, Rob Simmons; Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Scott Sio

Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Valetini, Liam Wright, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu