Italy vs Australia, Debut denied but Wallabies back Jordan Petaia for stardom


Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper has backed Jordan Petaia to bounce back from the bitter disappointment of injury scuppering his chance of an international debut.

The 18-year-old Queensland Reds flyer’s ecstasy turned to agony in the space of two days when he suffered a strained hamstring in training having been named in the side to face Italy in Padova on Saturday.

Marika Koiroibete will replace him on the wing but Hooper said the rookie, who this time 12 months ago was finishing high school, to be a mainstay for Australia for years to come.

“He’s been impressing everyone,” Hooper said. “His day-to-day routine for a young guy is quite far developed there.

“Like everyone else I was really pumped to see him get the game. To get ruled out that late for your debut it would be shattering but the guys have been really tight sticking around him and he will be back up for many more I’m sure of it.”



Wallabies coach Michael Cheika assessed Adam Ashely-Cooper performance in training, as the veteran should make his first start for the Wallabies since 2016.

Lock Rory Arnold was also ruled out after suffering a hairline fracture of his eye socket during a routine training drill on Thursday.

It was initially throught the Brumbies forward had sustained a just a cut over his eyebrow, but further inspection from the team doctor confirmed the news that will end his chance of playing on the tour.

“Rory is one of those ones that shouldn’t happen,” Hooper said. “He’s been one of the guys toiling behind the scenes.

“It’s tough that his season is essentially over there from a session on Thursday but that’s the sport we play.”

Defeat for the Wallabies against the 16th-ranked Azzurri is unthinkable for coach Michael Cheika, who has named a strong line-up following last week’s disappointing 9-6 defeat by Wales in Cardiff.

Although the defence was much improved at the Principality Stadium, the attack struggled to make any inroads and Hooper said he expects a much better showing at the Stadio Euganeo at 1am (AEDT) on Sunday.

Cheika has opted to play free-running NSW Waratahs halfback Jake Gordon ahead of starter Will Genia’s usual back-up Nick Phipps in an attempt to freshen up his offense.

“I’ve been a real fan of Jakey for a long time now and another one of those really good stories of a different pathway coming through and running on for his country,” Hooper said.

“The kid has a lot to offer on and off the field. He’s a bit older than your usual debut … but I like where this team is at. His work ethic is really strong, his energy around the group, across all players has a really good connection.

“He can get forwards into the game, how he can get backs into the game. And then also be a real threat himself.”

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