Auckland - Australia suffered a double blow ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup Pool C
clash with Ireland when flank David Pocock and hooker Stephen Moore
were forced to withdraw from the Eden Park match.
highly-rated 23-year-old Pocock, the only specialist openside flank in
the Australian squad, was withdrawn from the team in the morning
because of "soreness associated with a back strain".
Moore followed suit just over an hour before the match because of illness.
Ben McCalman, usually a blindside flank or number eight, has been
brought into the side in place of Pocock with number eight Wycliff Palu
joining the replacements on the bench.
"It's more of an ongoing
irritation than anything serious, scans have shown nothing sinister, but
David is a key member of our group," coach Robbie Deans said in a team
release. "We would rather give him a bit of time to get it right before
putting him back out there."
Moore, who has Irish parents, will
be replaced by Tatafu Polota-Nau in the starting team with Reds hooker Saia Faingaa joining the replacements.
be a big loss to the Australians in a match where Ireland's
ball-running back row and experienced midfield present a threat to
Australia's hopes of dictating their own passage through the draw.
The winner of the match will almost certainly top Pool C and set up a
quarter-final with the second-placed team from Pool D, likely to be
Wales, Fiji or Samoa.
Saturday's losers are likely to finish
second and play defending champions South Africa in the quarter-finals
and, if they get through that, the All Blacks could be waiting in the
Deans said McCalman was well suited to playing in the number seven shirt after his experience playing international sevens.
"Although Ben isn't a recognised openside, he does have some recent
background there and has trained in the role on a regular basis with us
this year," Deans added.
"We were looking to give him an outing
on the openside before our pool programme concluded, it's now just come
a bit earlier than we'd originally planned.
forward to the opportunity and we believe in him. That's why we opted to
utilise him as David's back up when we looked at our selection mix for
Palu's elevation to the bench means a likely return
to international rugby for the first time since the end of 2009 for the
burly backrow forward.