Wallabies seek one last push

2011-10-20 11:23

Auckland - Australia are looking to an injection of eight changes to revitalise their battle-weary team for Friday's third place Rugby World Cup playoff with Wales at Eden Park.

The Wallabies' title hopes were flattened by the All Blacks in last weekend's semi-final, while the Welsh are still coming to terms with their 9-8 loss to France where they played with 14 men for the last hour.

At the end of a demanding six-week tournament a resilient mental approach is required to overcome fatigue and the Australians are banking on fresh faces to finish their campaign positively.

Among them are dashing full-back Kurtley Beale and lock Nathan Sharpe, who is set to win his 100th cap.

"I've got an opportunity to step it up against the Welsh. They're a great side and I'm just going to try to bring a lot of enthusiasm and confidence to the team to try and help the guys get a good win," said Beale, who missed last Sunday's 20-6 loss to New Zealand with a strained hamstring.

"This is a good test for us. Our dream is gone now, but we have to step it up and finish it off in a good way."

Two-times world champions Australia will be without four injured players -- inside centre Pat McCabe (shoulder), Dan Vickerman (shoulder, leg and nose), prop Sekope Kepu (eye) and hooker Stephen Moore (sternum).

That opens the way for Berrick Barnes, Sharpe, James Slipper and Tatafu Polota Nau to come into the starting XV along with Beale, No 8 Ben McCalman, blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham and tighthead Salesi Ma'afu.

Sharpe is in line to become only the fifth Wallaby to play 100 Tests, joining George Gregan, George Smith, Stephen Larkham and David Campese.

"Obviously it's a short time from our last outing," coach Robbie Deans said.

"There's still, for a large number, a hollow feeling inside. But to that end it's good to have an opportunity to get back out there again soon."

Deans has great respect for Wales, who have been one of the revelations of the tournament.

"They're a very good side. They've shown an awful lot in this tournament," he said.

"They've been unlucky obviously in terms of the way they departed the quest for the ultimate goal. They're a side that has played with ambition and clearly are an emerging group."

Gethin Jenkins will captain Wales in the absence of suspended skipper Sam Warburton against Australia among three changes from the team that lost the heart-breaker to France.

Warburton was banned for three weeks for his dangerous 'tip tackle' on Vincent Clerc that ended with the French wing landing on his head.

Ryan Jones comes into a reshuffled back-row at No 8 with Toby Faletau moving across to take Warburton's place as openside flanker.

Bradley Davies, who replaced Alun Wyn Jones in the second half of last Sunday's match, starts at lock while Paul James is in the front-row.

Wales are aiming to equal their best World Cup finish of third place after beating Australia 22-21 in Rotorua at the inaugural 1987 tournament.

"We feel very hollow and very empty about what happened against France and pretty unfulfilled, really. We felt like the better team is not in the final of the World Cup," coach Warren Gatland said.

"We feel like we've shown a lot of character, we feel like we've played some great rugby since we've been here and, if this team goes out and performs like we're capable of doing, we'll leave here with our heads held high having earned a lot of respect."


  • Hennie - 2011-10-20 12:05

    The Bokke against Wales would have been a good final

      Barry - 2011-10-20 19:17

      I agree. Seeing this is the the play off for 3 and 4. The better side should win seeing the reffing issue is now sorted out. Go Wales !!

  • Phil - 2011-10-21 04:29

    The Bokke will be watching it on TV ...they werent good enough.

      heinrich.beukes1 - 2011-10-21 08:43

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