Aussies put punch into forwards - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Aussies put punch into forwards

By Melissa Woods 07/10/2003 06:18:51 PM Comments (0)

Australian coach Eddie Jones has put some punch into his pack by including rookie prop Al Baxter, Nathan Sharpe and David Lyons for Friday's opening Rugby World Cup clash with Argentina.

Jones has made six changes to his line-up from the side which started the last Tri-Nations match against New Zealand in August.

Winger Joe Roff has returned from a rib injury to push Lote Tuqiri back to the bench, while Matt Burke is the new outside centre replacing Mat Rogers, who has moved to fullback.

Veteran Burke got his chance at outside centre after Stirling Mortlock, who was due to make a comeback from a shoulder reconstruction, was ruled out after spending two days ill in bed.

Rogers took over fullback unchallenged after it was revealed incumbent Chris Latham was still suffering the effects of a bout of pneumonia which left him hospitalised last month and wasn't considered for selection.

Baxter has only played 50 minutes of Test rugby, making his debut against the All Blacks in Auckland.

His performance there, combined with Ben Darwin's slow recovery from a knee injury, made him first choice tighthead prop to take on the mighty Pumas pack.

The 26-year-old, who bought tickets to watch the World Cup, said he was still pinching himself after a dream few months.

A qualified architect, Baxter cut back on his work hours to concentrate on rugby this year, and has gone from strength to strength.

"I didn't realise that I was going to be even in contention a couple of months ago and then there were a few injuries to starting props ... I've just been there at the right time," the NSW front-rower said.

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