Taniela Tupou is set to make his international debut against Scotland, just a week after the prop completed his three-year Wallabies qualification period. The 130kg 21-year-old Queensland Reds player was named on the bench by Michael Cheika for the Murrayfield clash after jetting in to the UK last week from Brisbane.
Former skipper Stephen Moore has been named as the starting hooker in his 129th and final appearance before retirement with Tatafu Polota-Nau, dropping to the bench. The 34-year-old will retire from all forms of the game following his 97th Test start and eighth match against the Scots.
Fellow Queenslander Lukhan Tui will also return from injury via the bench, after suffering a hamstring strain in the narrow win over the Barbarians in Sydney last month.
Tupou admitted he broke down in tears after learning of his selection on Thursday and said wearing the Wallabies jersey was a dream come true. “I’m lost for words, I actually don’t know what to say,” Tupou said. “I was in tears actually. The first thing that came to my mind was my family.
“Growing up in Tonga as a young kid, all I wanted to do was to play for Australia one day and now I can do that this weekend. I just wish my family was here. I know my team will have my back, so can’t wait.”
New Zealand were keen to have Tupou in their national schoolboys team side after he won a scholarship to study at Auckland’s Sacred Heart College. However, the quietly-spoken wrecking ball said watching the Wallabies as child gave him a special affection for the gold jersey.
“I grew up in Tonga, always watching the Wallabies, watching guys like ‘Squeak’ [Stephen Moore], Sekope Kepu and Taf [Polota-Nau]. I was always wanting to play for Australia, even I went to New Zealand, I was lucky enough to get a scholarship … but it didn’t change me.
“It didn’t change for me, wanting to play for Australia and I’m grateful and I can’t wait to get out there and play on Saturday.”
Australia: Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Reece Hodge, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Sean McMahon, Michael Hooper (captain), Ben McCalman, Blake Enever, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio.
Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tetera Faulkner, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Tui, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Karmichael Hunt, Henry Speight.