Cross fires warning to England rookies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cross fires warning to England rookies

By Darren Walton 11/11/2008 10:04:12 PM Comments (0)

Australia's edgy forwards might be on the defensive, but fired-up Ryan Cross went straight on the attack after being recalled to the Wallabies' backline for Saturday's Cook Cup Test with England.

Cross will be reunited in the centres with skipper Stirling Mortlock when coach Robbie Deans names his team at 4am Wednesday AEDT.

After blooding several youngsters in last Saturday's 30-20 win over Italy, Deans will revert to the powerful line-up that started against New Zealand two weeks ago in Hong Kong - with the exception of one change in the back row.

Having fully recovered from an ankle injury, Hugh McMeniman is set to replace Dean Mumm as blindside flanker.

With Berrick Barnes (knee) unavailable, there was a vacant place on the bench but Deans seems set to once again overlook star winger Lote Tuqiri, who has yet to play this tour following minor knee surgery, in favour of Digby Ioane.

Once again, the British press have pinpointed the Australian pack as the weak link heading into the much-hyped sequel to last year's World Cup quarter-final in Marseille, where the English forwards monstered the Wallabies to set up a shock 12-10 victory.

The Wallabies forwards, quietly brooding and eager for revenge - even if they won't say so publicly - have been careful not to provide England with any ammunition since arriving in London.

Cross, though, was only too happy to spice the build-up, firing off a verbal warning to England's rookie backline, which - if the same as the one that started in last Saturday's 39-13 victory over the Pacific Islands - features five players with just 10 Test caps between them.

If England were planning to target the Australian scrum, then Cross made it clear where the Wallabies were plotting to strike back.

"I thought we played well in that first half against New Zealand. If we get more ball on the front foot, I think we can trouble these guys, hopefully," Cross said.

"They're a pretty inexperienced backline as well. Their combinations aren't with much experience.

"I watched some footage (of the Pacific Nations match). They're fullback and wingers are obviously very sharp, so we've got to contain those guys but hopefully we can put them under pressure early. They're inexperienced there.

"I think there's an opportunity for the backline if we play well. It's a good opportunity to put them under pressure and make a few tackles and see how we go."

Winger Paul Sackey, the 16-Test veteran of the England backline, has no doubt the Wallabies will be seeking retribution for their Marseille nightmare, which came four years after losing their World Cup crown to the old enemy in Sydney.

"It will have hurt them massively losing the final to us in 2003 and going out to us in France," Sackey said.

"They will be looking for revenge big time." Wallabies coach Robbie Deans insisted his side - which includes just seven survivors from the starting XV in Marseille - was merely excited by the opportunity that lay ahead at Twickenham.

"This is a new group carving out its own way," Deans said. "We won't be distracted by what has gone before."

Likely Wallabies side: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Hynes, Ryan Cross, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess, Richard Brown, George Smith, Hugh McMeniman, Nathan Sharpe, Mark Chisholm, Al Baxter, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Matt Dunning, Dean Mumm, Wycliff Palu, Sam Cordingley, Quade Cooper, Digby Ioane.

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