Wallabies team to play Wales named
A new-look front row will take on Wales this Friday in the bronze final of the Rugby World Cup, with Nathan Sharpe receiving his 100th cap for Australia as one of six changes to the forwards.
Injuries to Pat McCabe (shoulder), lock Dan Vickerman (shoulder, leg and nose), prop Sekope Kepu (eye) and hooker Stephen Moore (sternum), as well as coach Robbie Deans opting for a freshen up of the side, has seen eight changes with two new backs.
Replacing the injured Wallabies are Berrick Barnes, Nathan Sharpe, James Slipper and Tatafu Polota Nau respectively.
Tighthead prop Ben Alexander, who has started in 10 of the 11 Tests played by Australia this year, is off the bench, while Rocky Elsom has been omitted altogether. Loose forward Scott Higginbotham starts on the side of the scrum.
Radike Samo and Ben McCalman have swapped roles from last weekend, with McCalman starting while Samo plays from the bench.
The other alteration amongst the forwards on the bench sees Queensland Reds hooker Saia Fainga’a take up the position vacated by Polota Nau’s move into the starting line-up.
The other injury-related change to the backline sees the return of Kurtley Beale to fullback after missing the lost semi-final to the All Blacks.
Beale’s return allows Adam Ashley-Cooper to return to the midfield, with Anthony Fainga’a moving back to the bench to sit alongside halfback Luke Burgess and centre Rob Horne as the backline substitutes.
Sharpe becomes the fifth Australian, and the 21st player in the history of the game, to achieve the distinction of playing 100 Tests.
Sharpe achieves the milestone on the same ground as did the most recent Australian centurion, George Smith, two years ago during the 2009 Bledisloe Cup Test.
Friday night’s match will be refereed by Wayne Barnes of England, who also had charge when Australia beat Wales 25-16 during the two teams’ most recent meeting in Cardiff last November.
Full Australian side to play Wales:
15 Kurtley Beale
14 James O’Connor
13 Adam Ashley-Cooper
12 Berrick Barnes
11 Digby Ioane
10 Quade Cooper
9 Will Genia
8 Ben McCalman
7 David Pocock
6 Scott Higginbotham
5 Nathan Sharpe
4 James Horwill
3 Salesi Ma’afu
2 Tatafu Polota-Nau
1 James Slipper
Run on Reserves:
16 Saia Fainga’a
17 Ben Alexander
18 Rob Simmons
19 Radike Samo
20 Luke Burgess
21 Anthony Fainga’a
22 Rob Horne