Wallabies make four changes for England clash
November 15, 2012
Berrick Barnes returns to the Wallabies' line-up for Saturday's showdown with England at Twickenham © Getty Images
Australia have made four changes for the clash with England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Fullback Berrick Barnes and winger Digby Ioane return to the Wallabies' backline, in the places of Mike Harris and Pat McCabe, while second rower Sitaleki Timani and tight-head prop Ben Alexander also get the nod, taking over from Kane Douglas and Sekope Kepu respectively. After starting last weekend's heavy defeat against France, Harris and Kepu have been named among the replacements.
Injury has once again played a hand in the selection, with McCabe (neck), Douglas (knee) and flanker David Pocock (calf strain) all ruled out of the equation due to fitness concerns. Pocock, who captained the Wallabies through the June internationals and the opening game of the inaugural Rugby Championship, had his expected return from a knee injury delayed by a tight calf. Douglas suffered damage to a knee ligament during last week's Test against France, while McCabe was ruled out by neck soreness, having experienced stiffness through the recovery period since the Test in Paris.
Barnes made his return from a two-game injury spell off the bench at the Stade de France but Ioane hasn't figured since scoring in Australia's 25-19 win over Argentina at Rosario which locked up a second-placed finish in the Rugby Championship. The powerful winger has been sidelined from the two matches since by a knee injury, resuming full contact training last week in Paris.
Alexander also hasn't featured since that clash with the Pumas due to a wrist problem, while Timani was forced off after 21 minutes of Australia's 18-18 draw with New Zealand at Brisbane last month due to tightness in his lower back.
Coach Robbie Deans revealed that no one within the playing group was shying away from the disappointment of their defeat at the hands of France but he insisted that his side were not getting bogged down by the baggage of that performance either. "The key focus has been to take the meaning from it, and put that learning into practice for this week, both through our preparation and then onto the game itself," Deans said..
"There aren't too many challenges in Test rugby that are greater than playing England at Twickenham. We are playing an England side that has been building up under its new leadership, and will see Saturday as the chance to lay down a marker for the future. They will be excited by the opportunities they saw out of our performance last weekend.
"But it goes both ways. Saturday is a significant opportunity for us as a group as well. It's going to be a great occasion, and one that the whole group is looking forward to."
Australia: Berrick Barnes; Digby Ioane, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ben Tapuai, Nick Cummins; Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota Nau, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: Stephen Moore, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Radike Samo, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Mike Harris, Drew Mitchell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery