Wallabies switch Samo onto the wing
September 29, 2011
Australian No. 8 Radike Samo will start out on the wing against Russia to help ease his side's injury worries © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has sprung a major surprise by naming No.8 Radike Samo on the wing for the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup clash with Russia on Saturday.
The 35-year-old makes the surprising switch as the result of an extensive casualty list that sees Pat McCabe, Kurtley Beale, Digby Ioane, Rob Horne and Anthony Faingaa all sidelined for the game. Samo began his career as a winger and scored a try whilst filling in out wide during his side's costly 67-5 win over the United States but reports claim he has not started a game in that position since 1999.
But Deans has backed the 1.97m and 117kg Fijian-born Samo to make a seamless transition. 'He's familiar with the role and he actually offers us some things that are really valuable. He's a remarkable athlete. He's 35 I understand, he can still run fast and he's got a skill set that will be useful in the wide channels as well as in the middle. He started as a winger. And as recently as last weekend you saw him there. Obviously, it hasn't been his position of late but through our circumstances, it has become a necessity.''
There was some positive news with openside flanker David Pocock cleared to return to the side after missing games against Ireland and the USA with a back injury but Deans has been forced to name two scrum-halves - Will Genia and Nick Phipps - on the bench.
Ben McCalman returns to No.8 after having deputised for Pocock at openside and Scott Higginbotham gets the nod at blindside with Rocky Elsom named on the bench. James Horwill will lead the side once again from the second row where he is partnered by veteran Nathan Sharpe. Elsewhere, hooker Stephen Moore returns after illness sidelined him against Ireland.
Fly-half Quade Cooper retains his spot with Luke Burgess named at No.9 while Berrick Barnes and Adam Ashley-Cooper form a new centre duo with James O'Connor at fullback and Drew Mitchell continuing on the left wing.
Australia: J O'Connor, R Samo, A Ashley-Cooper, B Barnes, D Mitchell, Q Cooper, L Burgess, J Slipper, S Moore, S Kepu, J Horwill (c), N Sharpe, S Higginbotham, D Pocock, B McCalman
Replacements: T Polota-Nau, S Faingaa, S Ma'afu, R Simmons, R Elsom, W Genia, N Phipps
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies