McReight among five Wallabies changes for Pumas

Queensland Reds flanker Fraser McReight will have the chance to stake a claim for a spot in Australia's Rugby World Cup squad, after he was named as Michael Hooper's replacement in the Wallabies team to face Argentina in Sydney on Saturday night.

As revealed by ESPN on Wednesday, Hooper is a scratching from the Test against Michael Cheika's Pumas due to a calf injury, opening up an opportunity for McReight to push his World Cup case at CommBank Stadium.

"He should be running by Friday. It's only a small injury, but he's too valuable a player to risk for this Test," Jones said of Hooper on Thursday morning.

"We've got a couple of other options we're looking at in terms of that No. 7 position, but Fraser's trained really well, impressed in the three weeks I've seen him, and I think he can do fantastic job for us.

McReight is one of three changes to the pack that started against South Africa, with Jed Holloway also brought into the back-row at No. 6 as the replacement for the injured Tom Hooper. Meanwhile, Richie Arnold has earned his first run-on start after coming off the bench in the 43-12 loss to the Springboks in Pretoria, the Toulouse lock replacing Nick Frost in the second-row.

There are two further changes to the backline, with Samu Kerevi and Mark Nawaqanitawase returning at inside centre and on the right wing respectively, with Reece Hodge and Suliasi Vunivalu dropping out of the squad altogether.

Angus Bell is a welcomed sight among the replacements, with the Waratahs prop set to play his first game since he was injured in the Waratahs' opening Super Rugby Pacific match against the Brumbies.

"He's pretty excited the big fella," Wallabies co-captain James Slipper said of Bell. "The way he's been training, and the way he's applied himself at training has been really impressive.

"It looks like he's put on a few kilos and he's ready to go, so I'm excited for him."

He is joined on the bench by Pone Fa'aumasili, Matt Philip, Rob Leota and Josh Kemeny, after Eddie Jones opted for a 6-2 split that means Kemeny will certainly have to cover the "utility role" the Wallabies coach declared the flanker was inline to fill when naming his Rugby Championship squad in June.

Tate McDermott and Carter Gordon are the only established back reserves.

McReight, meanwhile, has long been anointed Hooper's successor as the Wallabies No. 7 and enjoyed three successive starts during last year's Rugby Championship after the veteran flanker stepped away for mental health reasons.

But he was then replaced by Pete Samu, who does not feature in this weekend's 23, for Tests against the All Blacks. McReight did however close out 2022 as the Wallabies No. 7 in their win over Wales, and was consistently among the Reds' best performers during Super Rugby Pacific this season.

Argentina also suffered a big defeat in their opening Rugby Championship clash, the Pumas thumped 41-12 by the All Blacks in Mendoza.

AUSTRALIA: Tom Wright, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Nic White; Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Jed Holloway, Will Skelton, Richie Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Dave Porecki, James Slipper. Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Angus Bell, Pone Fa'aumasili, Matt Philip, Rob Leota, Josh Kemeny, Tate McDermott, Carter Gordon.