Sharpe back to face Boks

2011-08-11 06:54

Durban - Scott Higginbotham and Nathan Sharpe have been given opportunities to press for Rugby World Cup selection after being recalled for Australia's Tri-Nations Test against the Springboks on Saturday.

Backrower Higginbotham and lock Sharpe were named on Thursday to replace Ben McCalman and Rob Simmons for the match against the defending World Cup champions at King's Park.

McCalman has been moved to the reserves, while Simmons has been rested. Sitaleki Timani will be the reserve lock on the bench.

Reds No 8 Radike Samo makes a long awaited return to the Australian squad, named to a reserves bench that comprises a 5-2 split of forwards to backs. Winger Lachie Turner was dropped from the squad which lost in New Zealand last weekend.

Coach Robbie Deans said Simmons was being given time to recover from a sore shoulder, but he was not in doubt for selection to the World Cup squad.

"Rob has been troubled for a while now by a shoulder niggle. With so much rugby still to come this year, and a physically taxing afternoon in prospect, we thought it prudent to pull back on his involvement for now to allow his shoulder to rest up," Deans said.

Sharpe returns to the Wallabies XV after being overlooked last week for the Auckland match against the All Blacks, while Higginbotham is set make his run-on debut in the starting lineup after impressive performances off the bench this year.

"Scott has made a genuine impact in each of his test outings to date this year, and we'll be looking for him to do the same from the start this week," Deans said.

Prop Salesi Ma'afu was selected on the bench in his first Wallabies match this year after missing the end of the Super rugby season with a fractured arm. Ma'afu played in 10 Tests in 2010 in his first year as a Wallaby, starting in all six Tri-Nations matches.

"He's in good nick physically, has scrummed well in training and, most importantly, has been there before," Deans said. "Salesi knows what to expect in these types of contests. We will be looking for him to add value when he gets his chance."

Australia beat an under-strength South Africa 39-20 in the opening Tri-Nations match at Sydney last month, but a full-strength team lost 30-14 to the more experienced All Blacks last weekend.

Deans is expecting the Springboks lineup, to be named later on Thursday, to be far more experienced than the squad which toured Australia and New Zealand to open the Tri-Nations.

"We saw last week that the All Blacks hit the ground running with a group that featured a number of experienced players coming off a brief break, and the Springboks will be no different," Deans said.

"We didn't handle the opening onslaught in Auckland and that set us on the back foot for the remainder of the match," he said. "The South Africans won't have missed that. More of the same will be coming. It is important we adapt better and get ourselves into the contest from the start."


Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (captain), 5 James Horwill, 4 Nathan Sharpe, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu.

Substitutes: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Salesi Maafu, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Radike Samo, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Anthony Faingaa

South Africa: