Allan Alaalatoa will become the 85th man to captain the Wallabies when he leads the team out for the first time in Sunday’s (12am AEDT) Test against Italy in Florence.
After last weekend’s heartbreaking loss to France, coach Dave Rennie had forecast widespread changes to the side for what is, on paper at least, the least daunting assignment of the five-match tour.
That means a breather for skipper James Slipper, with Brumbies captain Alaalatoa an obvious choice to fill in after recovering from the head knock that sidelined him at Stade de France.
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The full Wallabies team will be announced on Thursday at 11.15pm AEDT.
The players have had to dust themselves off quickly from the disappointment of Damian Penaud’s match-winning try for France, as Tom Wright and Jock Campbell both missed crucial tackles on the dynamic winger.
“It sucked for the group, sucked for me and Jock but I’ve just got to own that moment,” Wright said.
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“The team review, we didn’t just look at the last try and think how shit was that game, we looked at the first 75 odd minutes and what we did really well.”
World No.7 Australia has never lost to Italy – who are ranked 12th but romped to an impressive 49-17 win over Samoa last weekend.
“The main messaging is around that we respect Italy and keep out the outside noise, around what could be perceived as an easy game for us on this tour, or the easiest,” Wright said.
Shattered Wallaby reflects on missed tackle
“It’s about making sure that we as a squad front up this week – it’s very easy to get up when you’re playing France or Ireland, the top two teams in the world, so we need to make sure we put the same emphasis on playing well and preparing the same way against Italy.
“We know Italy are going to be no slouch this weekend, especially at home and it’s a new environment for a lot of guys.
“It’s certainly been a focus point for us, making sure that we show up, especially coming after a performance that we were proud of.”
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