Samo and Vickerman earn recalls
August 23, 2011
Samo is starts a game for Australia for the first time since 2004 © Getty Images
Robbie Deans Anthony Fainga'a Saia Fainga'a Scott Higginbotham Radike Samo Nathan Sharpe Dan Vickerman
Australia have drafted in Radike Samo, Anthony Fainga'a and Dan Vickerman for their Tri-Nations decider with the All Blacks on Saturday.
James Horwill will become the 77th Wallabies Test captain and along with the inclusion of Fainga'a and Samo it means the match will hold special significance for the Queensland faithful. Samo - whose last competitive start came in the Super Rugby final - earns his first start since 2004 while Vickerman last started a match for the Wallabies back in August 2008 due to his sabbatical in England. The Waratahs lock comes into the side in place of Nathan Sharpe who captains the Australian Barbarians against Canada on Friday.
Faingaa - who earns his second Test start - has been called up to the outside centre berth in place of Adam Ashley-Cooper with the soon-to-be Waratahs utility back shifting to the wing to replace the suspended James O'Connor.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans justified his decisions saying their impact from the bench in recent Tests warranted a start. Deans said: "Dan offered go forward for us in the second half in Auckland, and has come on in his overall fitness since that night, while Anthony and Radike both made their presence felt in a big way in Durban.
"We felt in each instance that their previous contributions warranted further opportunity this week."
With the Bledisloe Cup beyond Deans' charges, the Tri-Nations is still very much to play for following the All Blacks 18-5 loss to South Africa last weekend. However, history is not on Australia's side going into the clash as they last defeated their cross-Tasman rivals back in 1992 in Brisbane. And the last time the two sides met in a winner takes all clash in Brisbane, the All Blacks prevailed 28-24.
However - despite recent history - Deans remains bullish ahead of the tie as he looks to get one over his country of birth and build on recent performances. "The group showed a lot of character to bounce back in South Africa but no one in our party is getting ahead of themselves," Deans said. "The All Blacks are not the bench mark in world rugby without good reason.
"They give you nothing and pounce on any opportunities that you give them. To beat them, we will need to be disciplined, accurate, composed but, most of all, deserving."
Deans has opted for a five-two split on the bench in favour of his forwards and the coach is anticipating a ferocious battle at the breakdown. Deans said: "The contest in the contact zone will be critical, as it has been in each of the four Tests we've already had this year, so we've opted for a little more strength and depth in that area."
And despite Australia's first game in the World Cup being within touching distance on September 11 against Italy - Deans emphasised the need for his side to focus on the immediate rather than the future. "Obviously there is a lot of rugby coming up in New Zealand, and there will inevitably be expectations around the impact that this weekend might have on that but while a lot is going to happen beyond Saturday, we can't afford to - and won't - be looking beyond this game."
Australia: Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Anthony Fainga'a, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dan Vickerman, James Horwill, Rocky Elsom, David Pocock, Radike Samo
Replacements: Saia Fainga'a, Salesi Ma'afu, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, TBC
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