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Porecki, Neville to make Wallabies debuts in England opener

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has sprung a selection shock for the first Test against England, with 33-year-old Brumbies lock Cadeyrn Neville to make his Test debut at Optus Stadium in Perth on Saturday night.

Neville will be the third oldest Wallaby debutant since World War II at the age of 33 years and 235 days, the second-rower rewarded for a fine season that saw him become a key cog of the Brumbies' run to the Super Rugby Pacific semifinals.

And Neville will be joined on his run-on debut by Waratahs hooker Dave Porecki, who caps a successful return from English rugby two years ago by earning his first Test start ahead of Folau Fainga'a.

"The two boys on debut, they're great stories, aren't they, taken the long route to get to a Wallaby jersey, have a genuine hunger and a thirst, Rennie told reporters on Thursday.

"I look at [Neville], 33 years old, but if you'd seen him training, he's a really good athlete, he's been getting around the park. He's a big man, 124/125 kilos, so very very important for us from a set-piece point-of-view, very good at maul, lineout, scrum.

"From a perseverance point-of-view, it's a great story, and likewise with Dave Porecki. He spent a lot time over at London Irish and came back; we would have picked him last year had he not got injured. So again, great for both those guys and awesome for them and their families."

Joining Porecki in the front-row is Waratahs teammate Angus Bell, with the loosehead preferred ahead of James Slipper, and Brumbies veteran Allan Alaalatoa.

Rennie is hopeful powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou would be fit to return from a calf injury for the second Test in Brisbane, after he missed the closing five weeks of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

Neville will meanwhile have the familiar face of Darcy Swain along side him in the second-row, the Brumbies youngster edging out Matt Philip. Completing the forward pack are Rob Valetini, skipper Michael Hooper and Rob Leota, the Rebels back-rower winning the hotly-contested No. 6 position.

"I thought Harry was excellent against the other Aussie sides early, not the same impact against the New Zealand sides," Rennie said of Reds youngster Harry Wilson, who missed out on a place in the 23.

"But there's not much there, though, Harry's gone well [in camp], he's worked really hard. Rob [Leota] gives us genuine go-forward and carry, as does Bobby [Valetini], they're very big men and good both sides of the ball.

"But Wilso's not far away, it wasn't a straightforward decision, we had a lot of discussions around it over a number of days, so that was probably one of the tighter decisions."

The backline is as predicted, with Nic White and Quade Cooper combining in the halves, while Samu Kerevi and Len Ikitau will start in the midfield.

Tom Banks, Marika Koroibete and Andrew Kellaway complete the line-up in the back three, giving the Wallabies the same backline that hit its straps in the two victories over the Springboks last year.

Jake Gordon has won the back-up role at scrum-half on the bench ahead of Tate McDermott, while Noah Lolesio will provide cover for Cooper at fly-half.

That means there is just one Reds player in the matchday 23 in Jordan Petaia.

While Australia are playing at home against England for the first time since the tourists series sweep of 2016, the Wallabies are still searching for a first win over the Auld Enemy since 2015.

With such a strong Brumbies contingent -- 12 of the 23 -- it is expected the Wallabies will look to play a similar game plan to the ACT franchise, with Brumbies boss and now Wallabies assistant Dan McKellar on Wednesday declaring Australia wanted to have the "best maul in the world."

Rennie, for his part, knows that if the Wallabies are to end their streak, they have to meet the English challenge up front.

"We still want to play, but there's no doubt that it'll be a focus for them, a big scrum, they've got a very big pack and they've brought back a fair bit of experience, we think, assuming they name who we expect them to name," Rennie said.

"So the lineout, the maul, the scrum, are big aspects of their game, and they'll want to scrum and maybe scrum for penalties to get territory and put us in the corner, or kick for the posts.

"So it's an area that we feel if we can overshadow them, then it gives us an opportunity to get our game on and put a bit of heat on at the right end of the field. There's no doubt at international level, if you haven't got a group of men functioning up front, you're not going to win."

AUSTRALIA: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Nic White; Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper, Rob Leota, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell. Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Matt Philip, Pete Samu, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Jordan Petaia.