Ashley-Cooper back at back for Wallabies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ashley-Cooper back at back for Wallabies

20/07/2010 02:54:43 PM Comments (0)

Adam Ashley-Cooper has reclaimed the fullback role for the Wallabies in their opening Tri-Nations rugby Test against South Africa on Saturday.

Ashley-Cooper, the first-choice custodian last year, swaps positions with youngster James O'Connor who will play on the wing for the first time in his 18 Tests in the Suncorp Stadium clash.

Coach Robbie Deans on Tuesday recalled three key players from injury to his starting team - prop Benn Robinson (broken arm), lock Nathan Sharpe (back strain) and halfback Will Genia (hand fracture) - in changes from the team that beat Ireland 22-15 in its last Test in June.

However young hooker Saia Fainga retained his spot, leaving Stephen Moore to make his comeback from the bench after he missed the June Tests with a broken jaw.

Four players - centre Rob Horne, flyhalf Quade Cooper, prop Salesi Maafu and Faingaa - will be starting in a Tri Nations match for the first time.

A further four on the bench - utility back Kurtley Beale, loose forward Matt Hodgson, debutant second rower Rob Simmons and prop James Slipper - could also make their first starts in the tournament with Simmons also poised for his Test debut.

The Wallabies take on a Springbok team who are defending the title but hard hit by consecutive losses to the All Blacks in New Zealand in the opening two matches of the series.

"We've obviously been able to have a good look at both South Africa and New Zealand through their matches over the last two weekends," said Deans.

"The imagery from those games has left our players in no doubt as to the magnitude of the task ahead.

"This competition features the top three sides in the world on the IRB rankings, and we are chasing the other two."

While Australia boasts a strong historical dominance over South Africa from past matches in Brisbane, Deans doubted that would count for anything.

"It will be about the here and now, as it always is," Deans said.

"Our team is significantly different even from that which played (and beat the Boks) in Brisbane last year, as is theirs."

Wallabies: Adam Ashley Cooper, James O'Connor, Rob Horne, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (capt), Nathan Sharpe, Dean Mumm, Salesi Ma'afu, Saia Fainga, Benn Robinson. Res: Stephen Moore, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Matt Hodgson, Luke Burgess, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale.

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