Australia recalled forwards Dan Vickerman and Radike Samo for this weekend’s Tri-Nations rugby decider against top-ranked New Zealand.
Vickerman replaces Nathan Sharpe as captain James Horwill’s second-row partner. Samo takes over from Scott Higginbotham at No. 8 for his first Test start since 2004 after coming off the bench in Australia’s 14-9 win in South Africa on Aug. 13.
In the only other change from the team that started that match, Anthony Fainga’a was picked at outside center in place of Adam Ashley-Cooper, who moves to the wing spot left vacant by James O’Connor’s one-game suspension for missing last week’s World Cup squad announcement.
“The group showed a lot of character to bounce back in South Africa but no one in our party is getting ahead of themselves,” Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said in a statement. “The All Blacks are not the bench mark in world rugby without good reason. They give you nothing and pounce on any opportunities that you give them.”
New Zealand’s 18-5 loss in South Africa three days ago left the Wallabies and All Blacks tied on nine points atop the Tri- Nations standings. Australia won the last of its two southern hemisphere rugby championships in 2001.
The game is scheduled for Aug. 27 at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium. The All Blacks won 30-14 when the teams met Aug. 6 at Auckland’s Eden Park, which will host the Rugby World Cup final on Oct. 23.
No Action Over Brawl
The Australian Rugby Union said today it found no grounds to take action against backs O’Connor, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale after investigating allegations that the trio had brawled amongst themselves in Paris last year.
The Sydney-based governing body said in a statement that, while it had ascertained that there was a disagreement between the players, those involved had maintained it wasn’t of a serious nature.
“There’s always going to be disagreements and stuff like that but in terms of anything sinister there’s nothing going on,” fly-half Cooper told reporters today in televised comments. “It’s boys being boys. We’ve got a massive game against the All Blacks this weekend and then it’s the World Cup and that’s where our focus is solely.”
AUSTRALIA: Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Anthony Fainga’a, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Radike Samo, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, James Horwill (captain), Dan Vickerman, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu.
Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, Salesi Ma’afu, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, To be advised.
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