Beale back for Wallabies

2011-10-19 06:59

Auckland - Kurtley Beale was one of eight changes announced on Wednesday to the Australia side for Friday's Rugby World Cup third place playoff against Wales in a match where lock Nathan Sharpe is set to win his 100th cap.

Attacking fullback Beale missed the Wallabies' 20-6 loss to New Zealand in last weekend's semi-final with a hamstring injury.

But he has been passed fit to play against Wales in the bronze final match at Eden Park.

"It's (hamstring) pretty close. I did a two and a half kilometre run the next day (after All Blacks semi) and there's still a bit of tenderness there," Beale said.

"The strain is actually fine, it's the muscles around it that's pretty weak, but I've done everything I can to get it as strong as possible and I'm really looking forward to it."

Beale's return means Adam Ashley-Cooper, fullback against New Zealand, switches to midfield, with Anthony Fainga'a moving from centre to the bench.

Sharpe, starting in place of the injured Dan Vickerman, is set to become only the fifth Wallaby to play 100 Tests - the others are George Gregan, George Smith, Stephen Larkham and David Campese.

"I couldn't control when I would have an opportunity to play my 100th Test, all I could do is to get myself into the best possible shape so when I had the opportunity to play I would put my best foot forward," Sharpe said.

"As disappointing as it is to be playing in the playoff for third, it's still an opportunity for us to represent our country and do it proudly."

Two-times world champions Australia already had four players ruled out with injuries suffered against the All Blacks -- inside centre Pat McCabe (shoulder), Vickerman (shoulder, leg and nose), prop Sekope Kepu (eye) and hooker Stephen Moore (sternum).

Into their places in the starting XV unveiled by coach Robbie Deans came Berrick Barnes, Sharpe, James Slipper and Tatafu Polota Nau.

Tighthead prop Ben Alexander is on the bench, while Rocky Elsom has been omitted altogether, with Scott Higginbotham starting in the back-row.

Meanwhile Ben McCalman starts at No 8 in place of the benched Radike Samo.

Wales, who named their side on Tuesday, lost 9-8 to France in their semi-final despite scoring the only try of the match after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off for a dangerous tackle and subsequently banned for three weeks, ruling him out of the playoff match.

Friday's match at Eden Park will be a repeat of the bronze final at the inaugural 1987 World Cup which Wales won 22-21 in Rotorua.



15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill (captain), 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Anthony Fainga'a, 22 Rob Horne


15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 James Hook, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Ryan Jones, 7 Toby Faletau, 6 Danny Lydiate, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Paul James, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Gethin Jenkins (captain).

Substitutes: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Alun Wyn Jones, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Lloyd Williams, 21 Stephen Jones, 22 Scott Williams

* RWC third/fourth playoff odds on BET.CO.ZA