Michael Hooper is back in the Australia squad for the upcoming tour of Europe, but James Slipper will retain the captaincy.

Hooper has not played since he withdrew from the Wallabies squad on the eve of their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in August.

The flanker stated that he was not in the right frame of mind to play, but is set to make his comeback on the international stage after being included in a 36-man squad on Sunday.

Slipper will continue to skipper Australia, while the uncapped Jock Campbell, Ben Donaldson, Langi Gleeson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Sam Talakai have been included.

Overseas-based duo Bernard Foley and Will Skelton were also selected for a tour that starts with a Test against Scotland at Murrayfield on October 30.

The Wallabies, who finished third in the Rugby Championship, will also face France, Italy, Ireland and Wales next month.

Australia head coach Dave Rennie said: "We've got a massive opportunity over the next five matches to test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world and string together some performances that our supporters are proud of back home in Australia.

"It's been really pleasing to continue to get game time into our players through the Australia A programme and a number of those guys have been rewarded for their form with selection in the squad.

"To have Michael back in the group is massive for our team on and off the field and we'll continue to make sure that he has the support around him he needs."

Australia squad:

Allan Alaalatoa, Tom Banks, Jock Campbell, Ben Donaldson, Folau Fainga'a, Lalakai Foketi, Bernard Foley, Matt Gibbon, Nick Frost, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon, Ned Hanigan, Reece Hodge, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Noah Lolesio, Lachlan Lonergan, Tate McDermott, Fraser McReight, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Cadeyrn Neville, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, David Porecki, Tom Robertson, Pete Samu, Will Skelton, James Slipper (captain), Sam Talakai, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Tom Wright.

Australia were again left "gutted" after being beaten by New Zealand for the second week running, with captain James Slipper accepting their performance "just wasn't good enough".

The Wallabies had lost 39-37 at home last week in dramatic fashion, but there was a far wider margin on Saturday.

The All Blacks were 17-0 ahead at half-time of the Rugby Championship clash after a pair of early Australia yellow cards and never looked likely to cede that comfortable advantage as they ran out 40-14 winners at Eden Park.

"That's a very disappointing outcome for us," Slipper told Sky.

"We wanted to come here and perform; we were really gutted with the result last week, and we had a lot of confidence coming in, but the ABs were too good, clearly."

He added: "I'm just gutted the way we performed. It just wasn't good enough."

Coach Dave Rennie bemoaned "way too soft penalties" on top of the early trips to the sin bin for both Jed Holloway and Dave Porecki.

Analysing the match, he said: "We got shaded everywhere, didn't we?

"I thought the All Blacks' defence was excellent; we had enough ball at times to find a way through and didn't.

"We didn't defend well enough, and you can't give a side like the All Blacks that much time and space. They're good enough to hurt us."

Dave Rennie has accused referee Mathieu Raynal of "showing a lack of feeling" over his match-turning decision to penalise Bernard Foley for time-wasting in Australia's 39-37 loss to New Zealand.

Australia had battled back valiantly from 31-13 down with an hour played in Thursday's thrilling Rugby Championship clash to lead 37-34 with time effectively up at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

The hosts seemed certain to have snapped a three-game losing run against New Zealand when Lalakai Foketi secured a turnover penalty in front of his own posts, only for Raynal to reverse the call due to perceived time-wasting.

New Zealand were handed a five-metre attacking scrum and eventually spun the ball wide, where Jordie Barrett had space to slide over and earn his side back-to-back Test wins for the first time this year.

Referee Raynal explained his decision was down to Foley failing to play on when the clock restarted, but Australia head coach Rennie was furious with the call.

"I was just talking to Bernard Foley and what we knew was the time was out and he told the boys to play but the clock was stopped," Rennie told Stan Sport. 

"So there was no real urgency to do that and I don't know... it just shows a little bit of a lack of feel for such an important moment in the game.

"The referee had told him to play and at no stage was he told or did he believe he was going to call a scrum from that.

"Most situations the clock is off and the clock stays off, so it sounds like the clock went off and then he started it again. As we know, a team scores a try late and you take your time getting back to halfway and they stop the clock and wait until you kick off.

"The disappointing thing from our point of view is it was a fantastic game of footy and we should be celebrating the game as opposed to talking about a ref decision in the last minute."

 

Wallabies great Matt Giteau used social media to describe Raynal's late decision as the worst he has seen. Asked if he agreed with that sentiment, Rennie opted against giving a comment.

The Wallabies have now lost 17 of their past 21 Tests against Australia, including each of the past four, and are no longer in contention to win this year's Rugby Championship.

"I'm absolutely gutted," Australia captain James Slipper said. "I don't know what else to say. We really wanted to put in a performance. That is probably the most gutting way to finish a game."

Australia, who have lost four of their past five Tests on home soil, travel to Auckland in the final round of fixtures next weekend. 

The penultimate round of Rugby Championship fixtures are upon us and it is all to play for with every side having won two and lost two of their opening four games.

An inconsistent New Zealand side are a point better off than Argentina, South Africa and next opponents Australia by virtue of picking up two bonus points.

Despite a thumping win over Argentina last time out, the pressure still remains on head coach Ian Foster heading into Thursday's contest with great rivals Australia in Melbourne.

The hosts are looking to bounce back from a 16-point loss against South Africa, who make the trip to Buenos Aires in the second of this week's fixtures on Saturday.

Here, Stats Perform previews both clashes in round five of the championship using Opta data.


AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

FORM

New Zealand may lead the way at the top, but their form this year has been very poor by their usual high standards. The All Blacks have lost four of their seven Tests in 2022 – only in 1998 (five) and 1949 (six) have they ever lost more in a calendar year.

Back-to-back victories would provide a major confidence boost for Foster's charges, and they have a good record in this fixture. Of the past 20 Tests meetings between the sides, New Zealand have won 16 and lost only three, a run that includes three wins in a row.

Australia have not lost back-to-back Tests with New Zealand since August 2017, however, and their return of three wins from their past six matches against the All Blacks on home turf is more than they managed in the previous 13 such encounters.

The Wallabies have won the opening game of the Bledisloe Cup – which New Zealand have dominated for the past two decades – only twice in the past 13 years. However, one of those victories came when they last hosted the opening game three years ago.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Australia will have to watch their discipline in what is a highly charged fixture. Skipper James Slipper has conceded 11 penalties so far in this year's Rugby Championship, which is four more than any other player in the competition.

All Blacks centre Rieko Ioane continued his good form last time out by scoring a try and setting up another in the 50-point win against Argentina. That could spell bad news for Australia, against whom he has been directly involved in 13 tries across 12 Test appearances.


ARGENTINA V SOUTH AFRICA

FORM

Argentina fell short of registering three wins in a row in this competition for the first time ever when falling heavily to New Zealand two weeks ago. 

Los Pumas will take great confidence from beating Australia last time out at home, though, and are now seeking successive wins on their own patch for the first time since 2012.

South Africa may not be in full flow, but they have won 28 of their 32 Tests against Argentina, including the past four in a row. In fact, only against Italy (93 per cent) do they have a better win percentage than they do against Los Pumas (88 per cent) among teams they have faced at least 10 times.

The Springboks did manage to build a little momentum with their win over Australia two weeks ago, yet that was one of only three victories in their past eight games in the championship after winning six of the previous eight.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Matias Moroni has put in some strong displays to keep Argentina in the hunt for the title, his five dominant tackles more than any other player in the competition. The centre has also won five turnovers, a tally only Malcolm Marx (six) – who he will face off against this weekend – can better.

South Africa are the lowest points scorers after four rounds of matches. Willie le Roux could hold the key to finding a way through Argentina this weekend as he leads the way for try assists this tournament with three, while also providing six assists in his past six meetings with Argentina.

James Slipper wants Australia to "hurt" after they were consigned to a 24-8 Rugby Championship defeat by South Africa.

The Springboks overpowered the Wallabies at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, outscoring them by four tries to one.

Debutant Canan Moodie, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi and Franco Mostert crossed as the world champions joined Australia and Argentina on nine points, one behind leaders New Zealand.

Slipper, captain in the absence of Michael Hooper, says Dave Rennie's side should be feeling the pain after they were well beaten in Sydney.

He said: "I want the boys to hurt. Yes, South Africa were good, but I felt like we didn't play much rugby at all.

"We wanted to review last week and be a better rugby team. At no stage should we think we're the finished product.

"Individually we need to look at ourselves. I'm confident we're tracking in the right direction. We just need a bit more polish. We need to execute under pressure."

Australia's next assignment is a Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks on September 15 and Slipper expects them to come back stronger after their hopes of winning the competition took a blow.

"It's tough when you're walking off the field after a loss, but we've got a lot of confidence in the group that we have," he said.

"We're after consistency and that's the big driver for us and when we start seeing that I feel that we'll see success coming our way."

Victory for the Springboks was their first in Australia for nine years and left the battle for the title wide open.

Dave Rennie says captain Michael Hooper has shown "true courage" by withdrawing from Australia's Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.

The flanker opted against facing the Pumas at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on Saturday, as he is not in the right frame of mind to play.

James Slipper will step in to lead the Wallabies in Mendonza, with Hooper heading home and Fraser McReight getting a late call to take the number seven shirt.

Australia head coach Rennie praised Hooper for making such a brave decision.

"Michael's one of the most professional and impressive men I've coached I know this has been a difficult decision for him," he said.

"He's shown true courage by acknowledging where he is at and acting on it.

"We will support him in any way we can and I know the team will be focused on getting the job done tomorrow."

Hooper said: "While this decision did not come easily I know it is the right one for me and the team at this point in time.

"My whole career I’ve looked to put the team first and I don't feel I am able to fulfil my responsibilities at the moment in my current mindset."

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos says Hooper will be given all the support he needs.

He said: "Michael is an incredible leader, it takes a brave man to identify where he’s at and come forward whilst having the best interests of the team at heart.

"His wellbeing is and remains the highest priority right now where Rugby Australia and the Australian Rugby community will do everything to support him and his family."

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