The Wallabies have made five team changes for their Tri-Nations series decider
against holders New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday.
Cross, flanker George Smith, lock Nathan Sharpe, tighthead prop Al Baxter and
hooker Stephen Moore return to the starting team for the Test — the season’s
third Bledisloe Cup match.
Cross, Smith, Baxter and Moore were on the
reserves bench during last month’s record 53-8 loss to South Africa in
Johannesburg, while Sharpe was not a member of the last squad.
Robbie Deans omitted inside-centre Timana Tahu, flanker Phil Waugh, utility
forward Hugh McMeniman, prop Matt Dunning and hooker Tatafu
Former rugby league international Tahu and Polota-Nau have
missed selection altogether. Waugh, McMeniman and Dunning were named among the
replacements, which features a five-two forwards-backs split.
week’s gone and we’ve got a fantastic opportunity this weekend. We will be
better out of necessity and I’m very excited about this week, and very excited
about this group,” Deans said.
“They weren’t proud of their last outing
so the priority for us is to be proud of what we leave behind this
“We’ve seen some great encounters in Tri-Nations and you’re
going to see an even better one on the weekend.
“There’s been a lot of
fast, physical games and this will be both.”
Deans said the
Mortlock-Cross centre combination was a simple selection choice even though they
hadn’t started a Test together.
“We’ve gone to the experienced blokes
who’ve spent a bit of time playing together already this year.”
said it was easy to consign the Johannesburg nightmare to history and insisted
there was no panic within his team.
“It’s more of the same. It’s a matter
of sticking to what serves you and trying to win more of those little contests
so that the outcome deals with itself,” he said.
Hooker Adam Freier and
loose forward Richard Brown were selected among the reserves, with scrum-half
Brett Sheehan and winger-fullback Drew Mitchell covering the backline
Injured trio inside-centre Berrick Barnes, scrum-half Luke
Burgess and lock Dan Vickerman were not considered for
Australia must beat New Zealand to keep alive their chances of
wresting back the Bledisloe Cup, symbol of trans-Tasman rugby supremacy, with
the series locked at one match apiece.
The fourth match will be played in
Hong Kong on Saturday, November 1.
Australia must win the series outright
to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup, which it has not held since a New Zealand side
that had Deans as its assistant coach prevailed two-nil in the 2003
Thirteen of the players named in the starting line-up began when
Australia won the opening match of this year’s series, 34-19, in Sydney on July