Head coach Warren Gatland has turned to the 30-year-old, who, prior to the Pool D encounter with Samoa, hadn't played for his country since November, after Warburton was handed a three-week ban following his red card against the French.
Warburton's suspension has forced Gatland to make a change to his back row, with former skipper Ryan Jones named at No8 and Toby Faletau switching to he openside flank.
A second enforced alteration comes in the front row where 2009 Lion Adam Jones has failed to recover from the calf muscle injury that cut his semi-final short. Paul James replaces his Osprey colleague in a straight swap at tighthead.
The third and final change is the only one that isn't born of necessity, with Bradley Davies coming for Alun Wyn Jones at lock after the latter put in a huge shift against France.
"We are sticking with the majority of the side which has put together a string of performances for us so far in this tournament," said Gatland, who is keen for his players to bounce back from their bitter disappointment by ending the tournament on a real high.
"The one change which wasn't forced, in the second row, is based on the fact that Alun-Wyn Jones ran himself into the ground when we had 14 men against France.
"We feel very hollow and very empty about what happened against France and pretty unfulfilled, really. We felt like the better team is not in the final of the World Cup.
"We feel like we've shown a lot of character, we feel like we've played some great rugby since we've been here.
"If this team goes out and performs like we're capable of doing, we will leave here with our heads held high having earned a lot of respect."
Walesand the Wallabies meet again in Cardiff on December 3 and Gatland knows victory in Auckland would be a major morale booster.
The Dragons have produced some stunning performances in New Zealand and to head home with two successive defeats would be a bitter pill to swallow.
"We face Australia back home at the Millennium Stadium in just over a month's time, and we are single-minded in our assertion that we want that homecoming to be a celebration of us achieving the status of one of the top three teams in the world," added Gatland.
"We have come a long way and put together a string of performances that the nation can be proud of so far in New Zealand.
"And we need to ensure that the history books reflect what we know we are capable of. And it is only by beating the Wallabies on Friday that we feel this will be achieved."
Wales (vs Australia, Friday, 8.30pm BST)
Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; James Hook, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins (capt), Huw Bennett, Paul James, Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau, Ryan Jones
Replacements: Lloyd Burns, Ryan Bevington, Alun Wyn Jones, Andy Powell, Lloyd Williams, Stephen Jones, Scott Williams
NB bold denotes Lion