Towering lock Rory Arnold and uncapped back Jock Campbell were notable call-ups Thursday to an injury-hit Australia squad for two Rugby Championship Tests against Argentina, who are coached by former Wallabies boss Michael Cheika.
Dave Rennie’s men head to Mendoza for the first of two clashes on August 6, following their 2-1 home series defeat to England which was sealed by a demoralising 21-17 loss in Sydney on Saturday.
Australia, under mounting pressure after five defeats in their last six Tests, will be desperate for confidence-building wins in Rugby Championship clashes against Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand.
“We were massively disappointed on the weekend but we’re only three matches into a 14-Test season so we need to take the lessons on board quickly and learn from them,” said head coach Rennie as he named a 36-man squad.
The brutal England series, which left forwards Izack Rodda, Cadeyrn Neville and Ned Hanigan all injured, means Arnold returns.
Rennie is allowed three overseas picks and the door opened to Toulouse star Arnold with Samu Kerevi heading to Birmingham to play for Australia in sevens at the Commonwealth Games.
Japan-based Quade Cooper and Marika Koroibete are the other foreign-based players in the squad.
Arnold’s return is timely, with firepower needed against a powerful Pumas pack that helped them score a thrilling series win against Scotland last weekend.
Campbell is one of four uncapped players in a squad without injured backs Tom Banks and Andrew Kellaway, while Melbourne Rebels prop Matt Gibbon was handed a chance.
Gibbon’s teammate Pone Fa’amausili and NSW Waratahs forward Jed Holloway are also in contention for their first Tests on the tour.
Australia A representatives Lalakai Foketi and Fraser McReight earned call-ups after strong performances in the recent Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji.
“To be able to pick guys who have performed well in the Australia A programme against quality international opposition is a massive positive and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to the mob next week,” said Rennie.
“We’re well aware of how tough the challenge is of playing Argentina two weeks in a row on their home soil and they’ll be full of confidence after their series win over Scotland.”
Australia open their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina in Mendoza on August 6. The action then heads to San Juan a week later before they return home to play South Africa in Adelaide and Sydney.
They will round off the Rugby Championship campaign with Tests against New Zealand in Melbourne and Auckland.
Australia squad: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Jock Campbell, Quade Cooper, Pone Fa’amausili, Folau Fainga’a, Lalakai Foketi, Nick Frost, Matt Gibbon, Jake Gordon, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper (capt), Jed Holloway, Len Ikitau, Marika Koroibete, Rob Leota, Noah Lolesio, Lachlan Lonergan, Tate McDermott, Fraser McReight, James O’Connor, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, David Porecki, Pete Samu, Irae Simone, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Darcy Swain, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Suliasi Vunivalu, Nic White, Harry Wilson, Tom Wright
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