LYON, France (Reuters) – Australia coach Eddie Jones has left centres Samu Kerevi and Jordan Petaia out of his team for Sunday’s World Cup clash against Portugal, when the Wallabies need a big win to keep alive their slim hopes of surviving in the tournament.
While Australia need Fiji to lose at least one of their remaining matches to stay alive at the World Cup, they also need to run in four tries against Portugal in Saint Etienne to secure a bonus point in their final Pool C match.
The established centre pairing of Kerevi and Petaia struggled to make an impact in the losses to Fiji and Wales so Jones has gone with young guns Izaia Perese and Lalakai Foketi in midfield.
“This is an important game for this young team to attack from the first minute to the 80th. We need to empty the tank,” Jones said in a news release.
“We have a responsibility to put in a performance that makes supporters proud on Sunday, those that have travelled to France and at home in Australia.”
Ben Donaldson remains at flyhalf despite an underwhelming showing in the 40-6 loss to Wales last week that put Australia’s campaign on life support with Carter Gordon retained as his back-up on the bench.
Fraser McReight will return at openside flanker with Tom Hooper moving back to the blindside as Jones opts for a more mobile back row after going for power against the Welsh.
James Slipper again starts at tighthead prop in his 21st World Cup match, surpassing former scrumhalf George Gregan’s record for appearances at the showpiece tournament.
Team: 15-Andrew Kellaway, 14-Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13-Izaia Perese, 12-Lalakai Foketi, 11-Marika Koroibete, 10-Ben Donaldson, 9-Tate McDermott, 8-Rob Valetini, 7-Fraser McReight, 6-Tom Hooper, 5-Richie Arnold, 4-Nick Frost, 3-James Slipper, 2-David Porecki (captain), 1-Angus Bell
Replacements: 16-Matt Faessler, 17-Blake Schoupp, 18-Pone Fa’amausili, 19-Rob Leota, 20-Josh Kemeny, 21-Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22-Carter Gordon, 23-Suliasi Vunivalu.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)