Wallabies not disrespectful

Thu, 22 Nov 2012 11:59
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Australian coach Robbie Deans said he is not being disrespectful towards Italy and is just "freshening up" his team.

Australian coach Robbie Deans said he is not being disrespectful towards Italy and is just "freshening up" his team.

Deans made four changes to the team that beat England last week, for Saturday's trip to Florence  and an encounter with Azzurri.

Flank Scott Higginbotham return from a two-match ban as part of a re-jigged line-up to face Italy. Higginbotham was initially left out of the touring party after his ban for kneeing and head-butting All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

However, he joined the tour after lock Rob Simmons received an eight-week ban for a tip tackle during Australia's heavy defeat to France on November 10.

Western Force scrumhalf Brett Sheehan will make his first Test start - six years after his debut - in Florence on Saturday.

It is Sheehan's seventh cap but his first starting for the Wallabies as he replaces Nick Phipps, who moves to the bench.

Drew Mitchell will swap roles with Digby Ioane, who returns to the bench after he returned from injury in a starting position at Twickenham while Stephen Moore gains his first start since August, taking over from Tatafu Polota Nau.

Australia coach Robbie Deans said the changes to the team that started against England were designed to inject fresh momentum, and could in no way be construed as being disrespectful towards this weekend's opponents.

"It's quite the reverse," Deans says of the intent of the personnel changes.

"If you look at the men who are coming in, they are all seasoned Test players.

"Drew [Mitchell] is one of the most experienced Test wings in Australian history; Stephen Moore is our most capped hooker, while Scott [Higginbotham] was the Test incumbent in his position until the suspension.

"No one should doubt the impact that Brett Sheehan has made since he has joined the squad either.

"Nick [Phipps] did well last weekend against England and he is still in a position to contribute this weekend but Brett has worked hard and has earned this opportunity."

Deans believes New Zealand's 42-10 win in Rome last week will still have given Italy coach Jacques Brunel cause for hope as he continues his quest to get the Azzurri playing more expansive, open rugby.

"They are not the first side to have suffered in that manner against the All Blacks," Deans noted.

"If you look at the game in its entirety as I'm sure Jacques [Italy coach, Jacques Brunel] will have done, there was a lot of good in it for them. I've no doubt they will be looking forward to another opportunity this weekend.

"It has been a notable feature of recent performances that the Italians are looking to play with a bit more width and use the ball more, expanding on their usual strength in the physical exchanges."