Paisami steps in for injured Kerevi as Wallabies unveil strong line-up

Coach Dave Rennie is expecting the transition from Samu Kerevi to Hunter Paisami to be seamless as the Wallabies prepare for a fast and furious Test against Japan on Saturday.

Kerevi failed to overcome an ankle injury to face the Brave Blossoms in Oita, with Paisami to play his first Test since August as he returns at inside centre.

Paisami is one of four changes to the starting XV with lock Matt Philip returning, his Rebels teammate Rob Leota recalled at blindside flanker and Tom Wright named on the wing in place of Marika Koroibete, who opted not to tour.

Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney is in line for a potential Test debut after being a surprise inclusion on the bench with Rennie admitting the rake role is wide open.

The blockbusting Kerevi was Australia’s best player during the Rugby Championship and was key to their run of four wins over world champions South Africa and Argentina.

He is expected to be available for their next Test against Scotland on November 8, with England and Wales Tests to follow.

But Rennie backed 23-year-old Reds centre Paisami to perform well.

“He will play his own game,” Rennie said.

“What we know with Hunter, he’s explosive and powerful, he’s got a really good skill set so not a lot changes really.

“He’s slotted in really nicely and he’s had a full training week over here so we think it will be seamless.”

Wallabies: Reece Hodge, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Andrew Kellaway, Quade Cooper, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper (c), Rob Leota, Matt Philip, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper. Reserves: Connal McInerney, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor, Jordan Petaia.