Australia v England: Brumbies lock Rory Arnold set for Wallabies debut

New-look side: Samu Kerevi, Rory Arnold, Dane Haylett-Petty and Nick Frisby were named in the Test squad. Photo: Getty Images Stephen Larkham has backed the mix of new and experienced players after Wallabies coach Michael Cheika called on four new faces to take on England on Saturday night.
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ACT Brumbies lock Rory Arnold, centre Samu Kerevi, winger Dane Haylett-Petty and halfback Nick Frisby will make their international debuts at Suncorp Stadium.

Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano has been added to the bench after just one training session following the birth of son Jeremih as part of a seven-man ACT contingent in the Australian team.

Arnold, at 208-centimetres, will become the tallest player in Wallabies history when he earns his first cap after less than two years under Larkham’s guidance at the Brumbies.

He was part of the Wallabies squad last year after an impressive debut Super Rugby campaign but was cut from the World Cup.

Arnold now gets his chance to repay Cheika’s faith and throw his weight around against England.

It caps a whirlwind journey from being recruited at a Queensland pub, allegations of biting in a game in South Africa and linking with the Brumbies.

“I think [Arnold] plays the game aggressively. He’s learning about how big his frame is and how to use it,” Cheika said.

“It wasn’t that long ago he was working on the sugar mills in Mooloolaba or Murwillumbah.

“At the end of the day, he’s here now and learning how to be the best he can be at his craft as lock and he knows what we want from him in his role.

“We have a good mix of new blood and players who have been connected to the group for some time and the energy and enjoyment within the group has been excellent.”

Brumbies front-rowers Stephen Moore and Scott Sio will lead the Wallabies forward pack against a determined England squad, while David Pocock will resume his ‘Pooper’ combination with Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy will take a place in the back row.

Powerful outside centre Tevita Kuridrani holds on to his No.13 jersey with Israel Folau staying at fullback and Kerevi shifting to inside centre.

The birth of Lealiifano’s son opened the door for him to train with the Wallabies on Thursday after he missedthe first 10 days of the team’s Queensland camp.

The Brumbies co-captain will be a valuable asset to the Wallabies bench as the back-up playmaker.

“Christian’s a very clever rugby player, he was in the program last year and we’ve changed a few things but we’ve kept him updated,” Larkham said.

“He’s certainly someone who’s capable of understanding what’s needed out on the field so there’s full confidence in him.

“He’ll still be riding a high … I know he was up for most of the night [when Jeremih was born] but once he gets into training he’ll be fine,” the Wallabies assistant coach said.

Lealiifano gets his chance after being cut from the World Cup squad last year.

He has trained in Canberra by himself and Larkham fed him information about structures and plays to help fast-track his transition into the squad.

“He knows what we’ve been doing and he’s got all of the defensive patterns, terminology and slight changes that we’ve made from last year,” Larkham said.

“We’ve packed a lot into this training camp, but it’s a credit to the way the system was set up so everything has gone smooth. It’s about refining it now.”

Wallabies team: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Dane Haylett-Petty, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Samu Kerevi, 11. Rob Horne, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. David Pocock, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Rob Simmons, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Greg Holmes, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. James Slipper, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. James Horwill, 20. Dean Mumm, 21. Sean McMahon, 22. Nick Frisby, 23. Christian Lealiifano.

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