Mitchell and Alexander return for Wallabies
October 28, 2010
Drew Mitchell is back on the wing for the Wallabies © Getty Images
Australia have followed their New Zealand counterparts in naming a full-strength Wallabies team for the Hong Kong Bledisloe test on Saturday.
Wing Drew Mitchell and prop Ben Alexander return to the starting XV after missing Australia's last Test, the 23-22 loss to the All Blacks in Sydney last mont, through injury.
Coach Robbie Deans has otherwise kept the faith with the men who so nearly ended their ten-match losing streak at ANZ Stadium.
Mitchell's return sees Lachie Turner drop to the bench as the outside backs cover while Alexander's presence is a massive boost after the 25-year-old missed the entire Tri-Nations through injury.
Veteran lock Van Humphries will have to wait until deeper into the Wallabies' northern hemisphere tour for a chance to earn his first cap at age 34 after missing out on a bench spot.
Deans was delighted to have Robinson back up front as the coach finally appears to have settled on something close to his strongest XV.
"It's great to see Ben back after what's been a pretty frustrating period for him," Deans said. "Having been injured in our first outing of the year, he's had to sit and watch since, but he's worked hard and he's ready to go.
On Mitchell's return to a back three also featuring two of Australia's form players in fullback Kurtley Beale and wing James O'Connor, Deans said: "We've re-established the back three that did so well for us in South Africa during the year. Lachie did really well for us in Sydney and he's been rewarded with a place on the bench.
"From the team's perspective, the combination that has been so effective throughout the year has now been re-established. When you look at how many players are returning from the Hong Kong Test in 2008, that continuity hasn't been common for us in recent times. But I think this is the first indication that we're starting to get some consistent time together as a group."
Australia: K Beale (NSW Waratahs); J O'Connor (Western Force), A Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies), M Giteau (Brumbies), D Mitchell (NSW Waratahs); Q Cooper (Queensland Reds), W Genia (Queensland Reds); B Robinson (NSW Waratahs), S Moore (Brumbies), B Alexander (Brumbies), M Chisholm (Brumbies), N Sharpe (Western Force), R Elsom (Brumbies, capt), D Pocock (Western Force), B McCalman (Western Force)
Replacements: S Faingaa (Queensland Reds), J Slipper (Queensland Reds), D Mumm (NSW Waratahs), R Brown (Western Force), L Burgess (NSW Waratahs), B Barnes (NSW Waratahs), L Turner (NSW Waratahs)
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