Big guns return for Wallabies
July 20, 2010
Scrum-half Will Genia returns to Wallabies colours this weekend © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans welcomes back three of his big guns for Saturday night's Tri-Nations encounter with South Africa in Brisbane.
Loose-head Benn Robinson and lock Nathan Sharpe both add their experience to the pack while livewire Reds scrum-half Will Genia links up with franchise team-mate Quade Cooper at halfback. The return of Robinson is a major boost given the fragility of the Wallabies' scrum in June Tests against England.
Brumbies hooker Stephen Moore will start from the bench after a two-month absence with a broken jaw, giving Reds youngster Saia Faingaa his first taste of Tri-Nations rugby after a June debut.
In a surprise switch, Adam Ashley-Cooper and James O'Connor swap positions in the back three, with the versatile Ashley-Cooper reverting to fullback and O'Connor shifting to the unfamiliar wing position.
"It's really good to have a few of the troops back who have been unavailable to us, and Benn and Stephen especially, given that we haven't had access to them thus far during our program," Deans said.
"Benn has had a little bit more background than Stephen, in terms of having been able to get under way a little bit earlier after his injury, which is why he's ready to start while we are easing Stephen back in off the bench."
The Springboks are the defending Tri Nations champions but have started the series with back-to-back defeats in New Zealand and Deans expects them to be desperate on Saturday night.
"They'll be well motivated for sure," he said. "Although the Springboks improved significantly in the time between the Tests in Auckland and Wellington, they'll know that they have to lift again and will be determined to do so in order to go home with their foot back in the door as far as the Tri Nations is concerned."
Australia: A Ashley Cooper (Brumbies); J O'Connor (Western Force), R Horne (NSW Waratahs), M Giteau (Brumbies), D Mitchell (NSW Waratahs); Q Cooper (Reds), W Genia (Reds); B Robinson (NSW Waratahs), S Faingaa (Reds), S Ma'afu (Brumbies), D Mumm (NSW Waratahs), N Sharpe (Western Force), R Elsom (Brumbies, capt), D Pocock (Western Force), R Brown (Western Force)
Replacements: S Moore (Brumbies), J Slipper (Reds), R Simmons (Reds), M Hodgson (Western Force), L Burgess (NSW Waratahs), B Barnes (NSW Waratahs), K Beale (NSW Waratahs)