Lopeti Timani of Australia passes during a Wallabies training session at the Lensbury Hotel in London.
Lopeti Timani of Australia passes during a Wallabies training session at the Lensbury Hotel in London. Dan Mullan

Timani set for starting debut but Slipper gets the boot

RUGBY: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has been forced to keep gambling with his pack as he searches for the magic combination that has been missing this year.

Only nine players from the Wallabies' 23-man unit from last year's World Cup final at Twickenham are in the team to face Argentina on Sunday morning (AEST)at the same venue in the final Rugby Championship match of the season.

"It's pretty clear we are going through a bit of generational change,” Cheika said.

"We're not crying about it. We are getting on and doing something about it by blooding a new group.”

He has made Lopeti Timani his latest starting No.8, replacing the injured Sean McMahon, for his first Test start.

Timani, 26, came off the bench against Argentina in Perth last month but missed out on the match-day 23 for last week's defeat to the Springboks in Pretoria.

James Slipper, the Wallabies' most experienced prop with 82 caps, has been dropped from the bench.

Allan Alaalatoa has been handed a recall among the reserves at tighthead prop after a month off with a knee ligament strain.

Rookie prop Tom Robertson has been retained but shifted to loosehead back-up.

Cheika said the 125kg Timani had a specific role.

"I'd like him to do what's he good at ... run hard, tackle hard ... and the rest is a bonus,” Cheika said.

"That's what I want to see and we'll complement him with what Michael Hooper and Dean Mumm do well in the back row.

"I think with the profile of the other players we have like the sixes - they're more of the jumping-type sixes - that ball-carrying eight, that Wycliff Palu-style player, is something we want to have as well, so won't be able to do both.”

Timani follows his older brother Sitaleki who played twice at Twickenham for the Wallabies in 2012 and 2013.

"For me, I have to bring my strengths ... the ball-carry, big tackles and getting us go-forward,” Timani said.

Australia will have its tallest second-row combination in history with 208cm lock Rory Arnold joining 205cm Adam Coleman.

Cheika has also given lock Leroy Houston a chance of a Wallabies debut by naming the Reds recruit on an extended bench.

"Leroy's quite an abrasive runner as well,” the coach said.

"It's a great opportunity to see him step up and see how he'll go.”

This will be the first Test Slipper has missed since last year's World Cup pool match with Uruguay and just the second in which he has played no part since 2012.

Captain Stephen Moore will draw level with George Smith as the fourth-most-capped Wallaby, in his 111th Test.

Meanwhile, Pumas five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez (ankle) and winger Manuel Montero (leg) must pass last-minute fitness tests for Argentina.

The game will be a repeat of the 2015 World Cup semi-final a year ago at the same venue, won 29-15 by the Wallabies.

The match starts at 5.30am on Sunday (AEDT).

Australia: Israel Folau, Reece Hodge, Bernard Foley, Samu Kerevi, Dane Haylett-Petty, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Lopeti Timani, Michael Hooper, Dean Mumm, Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (c), Scott Sio. Interchange: (from) James Hanson, Tom Robertson, Allan Alaalatoa, Kane Douglas, Scott Fardy, Leroy Houston, Nick Phipps, Tevita Kuridrani, Sefa Naivalu.

Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Manuel Montero, Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo, Leonardo Senatore, Javier Ortega Desio, Pablo Matera, Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Ramiro Herrera, Agustin Creevy, Lucas Noguera, Interchange: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Enrique Pieretto, Marcos Kremer, Tomas Cubelli, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Ramiro Moyano.



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