Deans says Tahu ready for debut - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Deans says Tahu ready for debut

25/08/2008 11:13:00 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has declared former NRL star Timana Tahu ready to start his first rugby Test.

Deans has confirmed Tahu will be considered as the replacement for injured centre Berrick Barnes (shoulder) in Australia's clash with the Springboks in Johannesburg this Saturday.

While Deans has to wait another day to find out whether he'll be without flanker Rocky Elsom - who faced a judicial hearing for dangerous play only for the result to be held over - he's already making his feelings known about a possible replacement for Barnes.

The coach has several possible midfield combinations to choose from, one of which would include the fast-tracking of former Kangaroo Tahu into the Wallabies' No.12 jersey.

"There's no doubt he can start a Test, he's perfectly capable of that," Deans told reporters.

After playing just three minutes off the bench in his Test debut a month ago, Tahu got the final 20 minutes at inside centre in Durban after Ryan Cross had originally replaced Barnes from the 20th minute of the game.

At that point, outside centre Stirling Mortlock moved in one position with Cross playing at No.13.

"It was great for Timana to get the time that he got," Deans said.

"We delayed his entry obviously and deferred to the blokes who had the background of Test rugby first with the initial replacement option.

"But when Timana got in the game ... my first instinct was that he did really well having watched it live.

"We'll have a look at the footage and pour over it and contemplate our combinations and what we believe will work for us." Australia are insisting back-to-back wins in the Republic for the first time in 45 years is their priority, but Saturday's Ellis Park Test will have no bearing on the outcome of the Tri-Nations series so the Wallabies would have nothing to lose by experimenting with Tahu.

Cross, another former league star, also performed well on Saturday and has put his hand up for a promotion from the bench.

"I think I've taken my opportunities this year so hopefully if I get a spot we can make it another good win," he told reporters.

"I see myself as a 13 but obviously Stirling's captain and also had a great game yesterday, but I could slot in at 12 or any other place in the backline.

"We can swap any time, I can go 12, he can go 13, we're both big centres and get over the advantage line and I think that's a bonus for us." Meanwhile, Deans will wait anxiously for a decision on Elsom who was citied after pulling Springboks jumper Victor Matfield down in a lineout.

Elsom won the man-of-the-match award on Saturday and his availability would be a massive boost for the Wallabies, who have lost lineout chief Dan Vickerman with a shoulder injury.

There was also no decision on South African prop CJ van der Linde's citing for a headbutt on Wallabies halfback Sam Cordingley.

Reinforcement Nathan Sharpe, whose partner is due to give birth soon after the Jo'burg match, will join his team-mates at their base north of Durban later on Monday, while Barnes and Vickerman have headed home for treatment on their injuries and lock Hugh McMeniman is still recovering from a bout of food poisoning.

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