Nic White returns for Wallabies as Quade Cooper retains place for South Africa Test

Nic White returns to the Wallabies starting XV for the second Rugby Championship Test against South Africa inside a week, while Quade Cooper’s match-winning performance against the world champions last weekend has ensured he starts again.

The experienced White gets the nod alongside Cooper at halfback in the only change to Australia’s back line, earning his first start for a year after replacing Tate McDermott, who suffered a shin injury, at half-time on Sunday.

Skipper Michael Hooper will surpass George Gregan for the most Tests as captain in his 60th match wearing the armband when he runs out at Suncorp Stadium in a settled backrow alongside Lachlan Swinton at blindside flanker and No 8 Rob Valetini.

In the front row, Taniela Tupou will also start – for just the second time in 2021 – against the Springboks at his home ground, where the Wallabies are undefeated since 2016, winning eight straight Tests at the Brisbane stronghold. Tupou is joined by the returning James Slipper and Folau Fainga’a at hooker.

As expected Cooper, who kicked the decisive penalty after the siren on the Gold Coast on Sunday, was named in Dave Rennie’s starting XV. The 33-year-old will make his 72nd international appearance after returning to the Test arena with a bang in Sunday’s 28-26 upset of the Springboks, capping an assured performance in which he kicked a perfect seven-from-seven penalties with the dramatic match-winner.

He retains the No 10 jersey despite the return to fitness and availability of James O’Connor after a seven-Test absence this year.

“It’s not just game day, it’s the way they’re training, they’re preparing. He looked sharp and we were confidant Quade was ready to go,” Rennie said of Cooper’s sensational return.

“We’re not scared of making courageous decisions. We’ve got to back ourselves if we think they’re the right person.”

A second victory in under a week would secure the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate for the Wallabies, but Rennie said Australia would be wary of a Springboks side still smarting from last week’s defeat.

“We were really proud of the effort from our men last Sunday and we’re well aware of the ferocity that a wounded Springboks outfit will bring to Suncorp Stadium,” Rennie said.

The Springboks, who has won both their opening Rugby Championship games against Argentina – have resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes.

Coach Jacques Nienaber brought in Marvin Orie to replace lock Lood de Jager, and Trevor Nyakane was named at loosehead prop.

“Australia were desperate to win last week and it showed in the way they played,” coach Jacques Nienaber said. “We know what we are capable of as a team and we created sufficient opportunities to win last week, but we didn’t capitalise on them.

“So, we back our systems and structures and it is now a matter of being as effective as possible in executing our plan.”

Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper (captain), Lachlan Swinton, Matt Philip, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper. Reserves: Feleti Kaitu’u, Angus Bell, Tom Robertson, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Marvin Orie, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse.