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Jones backs ‘Formula One’ Wallabies, recalls Kerevi for Rugby World Cup opener

Australia head coach Eddie Jones on Thursday compared his side to Formula One cars as he recalled Samu Kerevi to this weekend’s team to face Georgia in their Rugby World Cup opener.

Jones has led the two-time World Cup winners to five straight defeats since he took over from the sacked Dave Rennie earlier this year.

After July’s loss to Argentina he had likened his outfit to his first car, a broken down Datsun.

“We’re ready to go, whatever car you like in F1,” Jones told reporters before Saturday’s game in Paris.

“We’re the fast ones, just at the start of the grid, just about ready to take off.

“We went through a period where we had to de-structure the team for us to be in a position where we think we can win the World Cup,” he added.

Kerevi, 29, had been sidelined with a hand issue since early August and replaces Lalakai Foketi in the starting lineup for the fixture at the Stade de France.

“Kerevi coming back gives us another option,” Jones told reporters.

“He’s ready to go. He gives us another running threat out wide,” he added.

Suntory Sungoliath’s Kerevi is one of three changes from last month’s loss to France in the Wallabies’ final warm-up match.

Youngster Ben Donaldson comes in for Andrew Kellaway at full-back and Marika Korebeite replaces Suliasi Vunivalu on the wing.

Against Les Bleus in August, fly-half Carter Gordon missed 10 points from the tee, but Jones views 24-year-old Donaldson as a dependable option in front of the posts as well as a replacement at outside-half.

“His goal-kicking has been a high standard,” Jones said.

“It’s an area we’ve needed to bolster a bit.”

Front-rower Taniela Tupou, 27, will make his 50th Test appearance against the Lelos, with experienced scrum-half Nic White coming onto the bench alongside Foketi and Vunivalu.

“He (Tupou) has the talent to be the number one tight-head prop in the world,” 63-year-old Jones said.

“We believe the way he is preparing, the way he is going around his work and the enjoyment he’s having in becoming a better player, we’ll see that.

“He’s still a young man for a tight-head prop and to play 50 Test for his country is a wonderful achievement,” Jones added.

The Wallabies also face Fiji, Wales and Portugal in Pool C.

Team (15-1):

Ben Donaldson; Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Korobeite; Carter Gordon, Tate McDermott; Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Tom Hooper; Will Skelton (capt), Richie Arnold; Taniela Tupou, David Porecki, Angus Bell

Replacements: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Zane Nonggorr, Rob Leota, Langi Gleeson, Nic White, Lalakai Foketi, Suliasi Vunivalu

Coach: Eddie Jones (AUS)