England

Barnes, Ioane to Wallabies' rescue

Thu, 15 Nov 2012 09:37
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There aren't too many challenges greater than playing England at Twickenham
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Wallaby coach Robbie Deans has made four changes to his team to play England in the Cook Cup Test in London on Saturday.

The four changes have been split two-apiece, between the forwards and amongst the backs.

Fullback Berrick Barnes and wing Digby Ioane return to the backline, in the places of Mike Harris and Pat McCabe.

Second row forward Sitaleki Timani and tighthead prop Ben Alexander also resume, taking over from Kane Douglas and Sekope Kepu respectively.

After starting last weekend against France, Harris and Kepu have been named among Australia's eight reserves.

Injury has once again played a hand in the selection, with McCabe (neck), Douglas (knee) and flanker David Pocock (calf strain) all ruled out of the equation due to fitness concerns.

Pocock, who captained the Wallabies through the June Tests and in the opening game of the inaugural Rugby Championship, had his expected return from a knee injury delayed by a tight calf.

Douglas suffered damage to a knee ligament during last week's Test against France, while McCabe was ruled out by neck soreness, having experienced stiffness through the recovery period since the Test in Paris.

Of the returnees, Ioane, Timani and Alexander are all good to go again following injury-enforced layoffs; while Barnes made his return from a two-game injury spell by playing the final 26 minutes off the bench at the Stade de France.

Ioane hasn't figured since scoring in Australia's 25-19 win over Argentina at Rosario - which locked up a second-placed finish for the Wallabies in the inaugural Rugby Championship.

The powerful wing has been sidelined from the two matches since by a knee injury, resuming full contact training last week in Paris.

Alexander also hasn't featured since the game in South America due to a wrist problem, while Timani was forced off after 21 minutes of Australia's 18-18 draw with New Zealand at Brisbane last month due to tightness in his lower back.

The Wallabies arrived in London to continue the year-end tour last Sunday after a disappointing first up loss to France where the visitors simply made too many mistakes against an inspired home side.

Coach Robbie Deans said that, while no one within the playing group was shying away from the disappointment of that defeat, and Australia's short comings on the day; the Wallabies were not getting bogged down by the baggage of that performance either.

"The key focus has been to take the meaning from it, and put that learning into practice for this week, both through our preparation and then onto the game itself," Deans said.

"There aren't too many challenges in Test rugby that are greater than playing England at Twickenham. We are playing an England side that has been building up under its new leadership, and will see Saturday as the chance to lay down a marker for the future. They will be excited by the opportunities they saw out of our performance last weekend.

"But it goes both ways. Saturday is a significant opportunity for us as a group as well. It's going to be a great occasion, and one that the whole group is looking forward to."

The significance of gracing the home of English Rugby hasn't been lost on the tourists: just five of Saturday's starting XV featured the last time Australia played England at Twickenham two years ago, when the hosts recorded a 35-18 success which reclaimed the Cook Cup.

These players are Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nathan Sharpe, Ben Alexander and Benn Robinson.

Two more: fullback Barnes and hooker Stephen Moore featured from the bench.

England's win in 2010 snapped a sequence of two consecutive defeats after Australia had recorded wins on their 2008 and 2009 visits to the ground.

The Wallabies also visited the famous stadium during last year's brief year-end tour, but that was for a non-cap match which saw the tourists overpower the Barbarians 60-11.

Ben Tapuai, who plays his first Test at inside centre, made his Wallaby debut in that match.

Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Drew Mitchell.

Date: Saturday, November 17
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT; 01.30 Sunday, November 18 AEDST)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

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