Alexander hoping for Wallabies start
Wallabies prop Ben Alexander is hoping his return to Eden Park to face New Zealand will coincide with a recall to Australia’s starting line-up.
Alexander has started in 27 of his 40 Tests to date, but in his six matches since last October’s crushing World Cup loss to the All Blacks in Auckland, the Brumbies enforcer has had to be content with coming off the bench.
The slide only deepened last week in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener, when Alexander was left out of the match-day 22 altogether.
Injury to Sekope Kepu has opened the way for Alexander to return to the squad for the must-win Eden Park showdown, but the experienced front rower is keen to leap-frog Queenslander James Slipper for a run-on berth when coach Robbie Deans names his team on Thursday.
“I was happy with my form at the Brumbies, I felt I had a pretty good year,” said Alexander.
“My body feels good. I haven’t played a lot of footy in the past six weeks so I’m fresh and ready to go.
“If I get a chance (to start) hopefully I’m up to the task and can contribute to the side trying to level the series.”
Alexander said the All Blacks ability to replace stars is what makes them great – and he expects Ben Franks or Wyatt Crockett to do a seamless job replacing injured veteran Tony Woodcock.
The 27-year-old believes the scrum battle was fairly even last week at ANZ Stadium, and is hoping to tip the scales in Australia’s favour.
Alexander said Australia needed to believe there’s nothing to fear at Eden Park.
“It’s a totally new game and we’ve got to go in with a fresh new mindset and be ready to rumble,” said Alexander.
“It’s a tough place to play … it’s not so much anything to do with us, it’s just they always seem to lift playing there.
“It’s their home of rugby but in saying that it provides a great opportunity for us.
“Pretty much everyone in the side is familiar with the ground so there’s no excuses.”
Meanwhile, young Queensland openside flanker Liam Gill is expected to be named on the bench for his Test debut.
“I’ve been sitting waiting anxiously for the last few days and I won’t be sure until I see it on paper,” said Gill, who is hoping to come on and work in tandem with starting No.7 Michael Hooper.© AAP 2013
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