Deans shows his hand

 Nov 15,2012
Written by: Editor

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has made four changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with England at Twickenham.

Full-back Berrick Barnes and wing Digby Ioane return to the back-line, in the places of Mike Harris and Pat McCabe, while second-rower Sitaleki Timani and tighthead prop Ben Alexander are also back, taking over from Kane Douglas and Sekope Kepu respectively.

After starting last weekend against France, Harris and Kepu have been named among Australia's eight 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.

Of the returnees, Ioane, Timani and Alexander are all good to go again following injury-enforced layoffs; while Barnes made his return from a two-game injury spell by playing the final 26 minutes off the bench at the Stade de France.

Ioane hasn't figured since scoring in Australia's 25-19 win over Argentina at Rosario which locked up a second-placed finish for the Wallabies in the inaugural 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 the game in South America 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.

The Wallabies arrived in London to continue their end-of-year tour last Sunday after a disappointing first up loss to France where the visitors simply made too many mistakes against an inspired home side.

Coach Deans says that, while no one within the playing group was shying away from the disappointment of that defeat, and Australia's short comings on the night; the Wallabies 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."

The significance of gracing the home of English rugby hasn't been lost on the tourists.

Just five of Saturday's run-on side featured the last time Australia played England at Twickenham two years ago, when the hosts recorded a 35-18 success which reclaimed the Cook Cup.

These players are Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nathan Sharpe, Ben Alexander and Benn Robinson. Two more: fullback Barnes and hooker Stephen Moore featured from the bench.

Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Drew Mitchell.

Date: Saturday, November 17
Kick-off: 14:30
Venue: Twickenham
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mathieu Raynal (France)
Television match official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

Tags: International |  Australia | 

From The Sideline