Cordingley to get nod at half - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cordingley to get nod at half

By David Beniuk 19/08/2008 03:39:32 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has given his strongest indication yet that Sam Cordingley will edge out Brett Sheehan as his halfback for Saturday's Tri-Nations Test against South Africa, and has surprisingly thrown Matt Giteau's name back into the No.9 mix.

Deans said he would opt for experience when he selects a replacement for injured halfback Luke Burgess, and Cordingley's 18 caps - 13 off the bench - are set to count for more than Sheehan's solitary Test appearance.

Interestingly, Sheehan made his debut in Johannesburg in 2006, while Cordingley is yet to play a Test in the Republic.

"We've got two halfbacks with us and there's other players as well with us this time who've played in that position before, the likes of Matt Giteau," Deans said.

"I think in the first instance it probably wouldn't be a surprise to you that we'll look to experience.

"So I'm giving you an insight there that we don't normally do, I've broken protocol there."

Sheehan's no-nonsense approach and consistent club rugby appearances had fuelled speculation he could be favoured against a physical Springboks side eager for revenge on their own patch after a loss to Australia in Perth last month.

Giteau was trialled at No.9 by former coach John Connolly in several Tests in 2006 but the move was abandoned last year.

Asked how important experience was, Deans said: "Experience is valuable but ... it comes down to how you use that.

"What previous experience in these sort of contests gives you is an insight but if you then don't use that to your best advantage then it's not much value."

The Wallabies trained for the first time at their Cape Town base ahead of Saturday's match at ABSA Stadium in Durban.

Injured trio Adam Ashley-Cooper (hand), Rocky Elsom (foot) and James Horwill (foot) were on light duties but Deans expects at least the two forwards to be right.

"They're recovering well, their progress has been good," the coach said.

"They ran today and reported no ill effects on that so we just have to see how they go, see how they respond to that work, in particular tomorrow and just push on and take it as it comes."

Drew Mitchell and Lachie Turner are the contenders to replace Ashley-Cooper while Hugh McMeniman and Dean Mumm are in the frame in the forwards.

Deans, though, wouldn't rule out using George Smith and Phil Waugh in tandem again after the Springboks were out-scavenged at the breakdown in New Zealand's 19-0 victory at Newlands last Saturday.

"We'll consider our selection ... and that will pertain to the Springboks," he said.

"We'll look at what we believe will serve us best. We haven't made those decisions yet, believe it or not, so we'll have those discussions and we'll settle on a combination."

The Wallabies need to win just one of their two Tests in South Africa to ensure their Tri-Nations finale against New Zealand next month is a play-off for the title.

But they have downplayed suggestions they will target a victory in Durban because that fixture is considered more "winnable" than breaking a 45-year drought in Johannesburg.

"The reality is you can only live in the moment and you can only deal with the challenges that you're presented with at any given point in time and we've got an opportunity coming this weekend and we are not thinking beyond that," Deans said.

Meanwhile, Deans has suggested that Michael Foley could continue working with the Wallabies until his current contract expires next March despite the announcement this week that the assistant coach will join the NSW Waratahs from next season.

"Foles has accepted a position with the Waratahs which is great for him, gives him some certainty," Deans said.

"He's still contracted with us through 'til March next year and he could still be with us as yet unless he decides he doesn't want to be. That's in the future."

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