Rugby Championship

'Big Benn' heading for SA

2013-09-17 07:45
Benn Robinson (Getty)

Sydney - Veteran prop Benn Robinson was on Tuesday recalled for the Wallabies' Rugby Championship trip to South Africa and Argentina while James Horwill was declared fit and named captain in place of Ben Mowen.

Robinson, who played in the recent losing series against the British and Irish Lions and is a veteran of 59 Tests, was the major omission in new coach Ewen McKenzie's initial squad for the tournament.

But after the team lost twice to New Zealand, once to South Africa and only scraped home 14-13 against Argentina in Perth at the weekend, he has been drafted in to stabilise Australia's shaky pack.

Uncapped Reds pair Albert Anae and Chris Feauai-Sautia are the other new inclusions in the 28-man squad,with Brumbies loosehead Scott Sio and flank Liam Gill paying the price for the Wallabies' poor start to the tournament.

Horwill, who has missed the past two Tests, returns after a left hamstring strain, adding his size and nous to the forward pack, along with Robinson. Horwill resumes the captaincy after Mowen took charge on Saturday.

"James has been working hard in rehab and is getting closer to a return while Benn has also impressed in club rugby to earn himself another chance," McKenzie said.

"The scrums have been inconsistent across all the Tests so far and we are now about to embark on a tough two-game road tour.

"We want to improve this area of our game and when you combine the Tests played between Ben and James we are bringing in another 99 games of experience up front.

"That's invaluable when you are playing in hostile environments away from home."

Anae, currently playing for Bay of Plenty in New Zealand's ITM Cup, has been added as the third hooker and can cover prop, while in the backs Joe Tomane returns from a minor shoulder injury and joins exciting 19-year-old wing and centre Feauai-Sautia in the squad.

Their inclusion comes with outside backs Nick Cummins and Jesse Mogg both unavailable through injury.

Cummins will miss up to a month as he recovers from the broken hand sustained in Australia's narrow win over Argentina, while Mogg will undergo a complete shoulder construction and will be sidelined for six months.

"South Africa and Argentina are always brutal games, so you need to give an edge to physicality in your selections," McKenzie said.

"You need to fight fire with fire to some extent and it's pretty clear that we've brought in added size as well as more experience for these next two games."

McKenzie said the tour of South Africa and Argentina would be important in terms of building confidence and a winning mentality within the group.

"I don't think anyone is going to back us to win these next two games but there is a terrific opportunity to continue to improve and surprise a few people," he said.

"There is a good vibe in the group at the moment with some emerging confidence and experience.

"We'll go over there with a strong mindset, the right attitude and with a really good chance to finish positively in the competition."

Australia face South Africa in Cape Town on September 28 before playing Argentina in Rosario on October 5.

Australia squad:


Ben Alexander, Sekope Kepu, Benn Robinson, James Slipper, Saia Fainga'a, Stephen Moore, Albert Anae, Kane Douglas, James Horwill (captain), Rob Simmons, Sitaleki Timani, Dave Dennis, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben McCalman, Ben Mowen


Will Genia, Nic White, Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Matt Toomua, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, James O'Connor, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Joe Tomane, Israel Folau


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