Wallabies make four changes for Boks clash
August 26, 2009
Lock Mark Chisholm will start in the second row against South Africa this Saturday © Getty Images
Ben Alexander Dan Carter Robbie Deans Rocky Elsom Will Genia Matt Giteau Sir Graham Henry Richie McCaw Ma'a Nonu
Australia coach Robbie Deans has made four changes to his side for this weekend's vital Tri-Nations clash against South Africa in Perth.
The Wallabies are currently bottom of the table after three straight defeats with the latest coming at the hands of cross-Tasman rivals New Zealand last weekend. As a result they must win their remaining matches and hope other results go their way if they are to upset the odds and clinch the title.
In what could prove to be a clever bid to revitalise his side's campaign, Deans has selected six members of the Western Force side that call the Subiaco Oval home for Saturday night's clash that will also double as the second Mandela Challenge Plate Test of the year.
Fullback James O'Connor, centre Ryan Cross, fly-half Matt Giteau and No.8 Richard Brown have all been named to start while flanker David Pocock and winger Drew Mitchell could be involved from the bench.
The selection of Cross, who appeared off the bench during last weekend's Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney, is one of three changes to the side that started that clash with the return of Mark Chisholm for his 41st Test the most notable change. The 26-year-old Brumbies lock, who last appeared for Australia at Test level when he scored a try against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on last year's end of year tour, recently made his playing return for the Randwick club after dislocating his wrist during the Super 14.
Chisholm has successfully negotiated his way through two club matches, the most recent of which was last weekend, after he sustained the injury playing against the Cheetahs at Bloemfontein midway through the Super 14. The door opened for Chisholm to return to the international stage due to the shoulder injury suffered by the Western Force skipper Nathan Sharpe last weekend against the All Blacks.
Although Sharpe misses the match, Perth fans will still get the chance to see another of their favourite sons, in the form of the talented 19-year-old O'Connor. The teenager has recovered from the calf injury which ended his night early last weekend, in time to retain his place in the starting line-up, for what will be the fourth starting role, and the eighth Test, of his short international career.
O'Connor proved his fitness at training this week and will now play his maiden Test on his Super 14 home ground. There is one change to the back three, with a new winger, after Peter Hynes was rewarded for his big impression as a replacement in Sydney, by being named to start in place of Drew Mitchell with the latter dropping to the bench.
The match will be just the second start of the season, and third appearance of the Test programme, for Hynes who was last year's Wallabies Rookie of the Year but has this term had to endure a season disrupted by injury.
The third personnel change to the starting XV sees props Ben Alexander and Al Baxter swap jobs, with Alexander starting at tight-head for just the second time this year, having earlier taken on the role against Italy in Melbourne. The improving Brumbies front-rower, who has largely been employed on the tight-head side of the scrum this year, played the final 49 minutes of last weekend's Test in the role after replacing Baxter, who is named on the bench.
Inside centre Berrick Barnes, who retired at half-time after taking a knock against the All Blacks, was ruled out on Tuesday. The versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper moves to inside centre in Barnes' absence, while Quade Cooper has been added to the bench.
The fourth of Australia's players to be under an injury cloud after last weekend's rugged Bledisloe clash, blindside flanker Rocky Elsom, has been passed fit to play. The 26-year-old, who made a powerful return to the Wallabies in Sydney after not having played since May, proved his fitness for the assignment at training this morning after scans had earlier eased fears of any significant damage to his ankle.
Australia: James O'Connor (Western Force), Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs), Ryan Cross (Western Force), Adam Ashley Cooper (Brumbies), Peter Hynes (Queensland Reds), Matt Giteau (Western Force), Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs), Richard Brown (Western Force), George Smith (Brumbies, captain), Rocky Elsom (Brumbies), Mark Chisholm (Brumbies), James Horwill (Queensland Reds), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs), Al Baxter (NSW Waratahs), Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs), David Pocock (Western Force), Will Genia (Queensland Reds), Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds), Drew Mitchell (Western Force)
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