Rugby-'Pretty amazing': Ageless Wallabies prop Holmes picked for Pumas test
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia prop Greg Holmes will become the oldest to play a test for the Wallabies since World War Two when the 38-year-old runs off the bench to pack down in their final Rugby Championship match against Argentina on Saturday.
Holmes will be joined on the bench by Sean McMahon, with the loose forward set to play his first test in four years, as the Wallabies look to finish off on the Gold Coast with a fourth win in succession.
With injuries in the camp and Allan Alaalatoa heading home, the seas have parted for Western Force tighthead Holmes, who played the last of his 27 tests against England in 2016 under Michael Cheika.
"It’s pretty amazing. It almost feels like it’s my first cap again," Holmes told reporters in a video call.
"All of a sudden they need someone to fill in ... Hopefully Taniela can’t get through the 80 minutes," he said of starting Wallabies tighthead Tupou.
Holmes met coach Dave Rennie for a couple of beers in Perth earlier in the tournament to ask if he could come to the Wallabies camp to take notes for when he moves into coaching.
Rennie later rang to ask him to come to Queensland as a player.
"My body is going really good," said Holmes.
"I’m reasonably strong and feel like my scrummaging is going pretty well."
Rennie said Holmes had earned his spot and the players were thrilled when the prop's name was read out on the team-sheet.
"There was a massive roar from the lads because he’s such a popular character," said Rennie.
"It’s not a sentimental selection ... We think he can do a job for us."
Australia, who beat Argentina 27-8 in Townsville last weekend, will look to sew up second place in the Rugby Championship with a win on Saturday.
New Zealand wrapped up the title with a tight win over South Africa last week.
Wallabies fans will also be eager to see 26-test McMahon back in action.
The versatile 27-year-old was considered a huge loss to Australian rugby when he headed abroad after 2017 but the country's selection restrictions on overseas-based players have since been tweaked, allowing him to return to the side.
McMahon can play across the back row but Rennie said he had been prepared to cover Pete Samu, promoted to starting blindside flanker from the bench, or Rob Valetini at number eight.
Jordan Petaia will start on the right wing, with Andrew Kellaway switching to the left to replace Marika Koroibete, who has been excused from the match to spend time with family.
Darcy Swain replaces the benched Matt Philip in the second row while scrumhalf Jake Gordon and winger Tom Wright have been named in the reserves.
Gordon's promotion tips Tate McDermott out of the matchday 23 for the first time this year.
Rennie also confirmed that Japan-based trio McMahon, midfielder Samu Kerevi and flyhalf Quade Cooper would all be available for selection throughout the season-ending northern hemisphere tour.
Team: 15-Reece Hodge, 14-Jordan Petaia, 13-Len Ikitau, 12-Samu Kerevi, 11-Andrew Kellaway, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Nic White, 8-Rob Valetini, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Pete Samu, 5-Darcy Swain, 4-Izack Rodda, 3-Taniela Tupou, 2-Folau Fainga'a, 1-James Slipper
Replacements: 16-Lachlan Lonergan, 17-Angus Bell, 18-Greg Holmes, 19-Matt Philip, 20-Sean McMahon, 21-Jake Gordon, 22-James O'Connor, 23-Tom Wright
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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