Wallabies to unveil strong team - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies to unveil strong team

By Adrian Warren 26/06/2003 09:16:32 PM Comments (0)

Australian rugby selectors will on Friday unveil their strongest squad of the season.

Up to three key members of the 1999 World Cup winning combination will be back for the opening Tri Nations match against South Africa on July 12 in Cape Town.

After starting the Test campaign with nine players unavailable due to injury or rehabilitation, the Australian selectors will welcome back some familiar faces to the 26-man squad.

Among those in contention for their first Test appearance of the season after recovering from injury are five-eighth Stephen Larkham (elbow), flanker Owen Finegan (shoulder) and centre and fullback Matthew Burke (knee).

The squad will also be fortified by the return from injury of flanker George Smith (nerve damage) and inside back Elton Flatley, who was dropped from last week's Test against England for disciplinary reasons.

Burke, Australia's leading point-scorer at the 1999 World Cup, returned to club rugby last weekend after nursing medial ligament damage in his knee following the Super 12.

Finegan, who suffered a serious shoulder injury on the Wallabies' 2002 tour, returned near the end of the Super 12 and has developed his match fitness in Sydney club rugby.

Unlike Finegan and Burke, Larkham will not have any recent match fitness going into the tussle with the Springboks, but is expected to named despite a nine week layoff by the time of the game.

Between them, Burke, Finegan and Larkham have accumulated 174 Test caps.

One other veteran who seems certain to miss out is centre Daniel Herbert, who was ruled out of Queensland's clash with Fiji at Ballymore on Sunday through a knee injury which has sidelined him for several weeks.

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