Wallabies to ring changes
Auckland - Australia are expecting to make changes for Friday's third place playoff with Wales after their hammering by the All Blacks ended their dreams of Rugby World Cup glory.
The Australians were no match for the rampant New Zealanders, going down 20-6 in their Eden Park semi-final on Sunday as the hosts and set up a tournament decider with France at the same venue this coming weekend.
Wallaby coach Robbie Deans said Monday there would be team changes against the Welsh, who were only edged out 9-8 by France on Saturday despite playing the last hour a man down following skipper Sam Warburton's red card for a lifting tackle.
"It's very likely that there will be changes, quite simply off the back of the burden that the core group has had and there are some pretty battered bodies," Deans said.
"(Prop) Sekope Kepu was down at the hospital this morning getting checked out with his eye, so we'll know more shortly, but the likelihood is that out of necessity there will be some changes," he added.
Deans said lock Dan Vickerman, hooker Stephen Moore and centre Pat McCabe were knocked about, while full-back Kurtley Beale, who missed Sunday's semi with a hamstring strain, would not be risked unless he was 100 percent fit.
The Kiwi coach said lock Nathan Sharpe would likely play in his 100th Test match in Friday's 'bronze final'.
Australia captain James Horwill said his devastated team would welcome the opportunity of quickly playing again and finishing their World Cup on a high note.
"I think it's a good thing that we're playing so soon because you can sit and dwell on these things now," he said.
Horwill said it was vital for the young Australia squad, many of them playing in their first World Cup, to experience the special character of the event.
"The World Cup is a unique tournament, this is my first experience of it and it's certainly different to any rugby I've played before, so that's the thing you learn from it," he said.
"For a number of guys it was our first tournament so it's a different style of rugby, everything's ramped up and we'll have to learn from this moving forward.
"There is no time to let your foot off the throat, you've always got to be prepared for any game and everything that comes at you, that's why it's so unique, it's just so relentless," the lock added.
Deans, re-appointed for a further two years before this World Cup, said he would take pride in the Wallabies' renaissance, even if he did not continue as coach beyond the British and Irish Lions' tour of Australia in 2013.
"I love what I do, I really have enjoyed this group of men, they are an impressive group of men," he said.
"They are fantastic in the way they've taken to their work and the way they are coming to understand the responsibility and the privilege that they have and I think they've shown that.
"I would see this group one day, and there will be a significant number who will get the opportunity, winning a World Cup and either way, if I was there or not, I'll take pride in any part I've played in it.
"We have to take value out of this World Cup, I've got no doubt that we will, but we've got a job to do on Friday first and this whole playing group will be better for the experience they've had."
Friday's match is a repeat of the third place playoff at the 1987 inaugural World Cup, which Wales won 22-21.