Samo and Horwill return for for the Wallabies

The selection of Radike Samo on the wing is the most notable among a number of changes made to the Wallabies side announced for their final Rugby World Cup 2011 pool c match against Russia.

Queesnland Reds backrower Samo finished last week’s 67-5 win over United States on the wing after a spate of injuries disrupted the Wallabies backline, scoring a try.

He has been given a further chance to shine in the position as coach Robbie Deans shuffles his resources for Australia’s final pool match in Nelson.

Just two backs, and four forwards, have been retained in their starting positions from the run-on combination that Australia fielded against United States last Friday night.

Fly half Quade Cooper and winger Drew Mitchell remain in the backline.

James O’Connor resumes at fullback after a hamstring injury, while Samo returns to the wing position in which he originally played for Canberra Vikings after his arrival in Australia in the late 1990s.

Adam Ashley-Cooper moves from wing to centre, combining in the midfield with Berrick Barnes, who is rewarded for his strong effort off the bench in Wellington.

Scrum half Luke Burgess gains his first tournament start, but all three halfbacks in the Wallabies squad may get a run; last week’s skipper, Will Genia, and third-choice Nick Phipps are the only backs named on the bench. Skipper and lock James Horwill and loose forward Scott Higginbotham both return to the side, after being sidelined last week, while flanker David Pocock will feature for the first time since Australia’s opening match of the tournament.

His return moves Western Force teammate Ben McCalman from the side of the scrum to No.8.

All three hookers have been included, with Stephen Moore starting and Tatafu Polota Nau and Saia Fainga’a playing from the bench.

Deans has no doubt that the combination selected for the weekend can get the result needed to secure Australia’s position in the next round of the competition.

“While there are various permutations as to where we might finish, we need to win first and foremost,” Deans said.

“No one in our group is looking beyond this match.

“The Russians won’t be easy. They will be excited about the prospect of playing against a top tier nation and will be looking to finish their first Rugby World Cup with a strong performance. They have been competitive in their three matches to date and scored two tries against Ireland.”

Deans said the inclusion of all three squad halfbacks, and all three hookers, was caused by the team’s current injury circumstance, as was the inclusion of Samo on the wing.

“We’ve had to be a bit creative but it’s never been about the number on their back,” he said.

“The players all know the role play.

“While some of them might be out of their normal positions, they won’t let us down and will enjoy the opportunity. We saw that last week with Radike and Tatafu in the match against the United States.”

A bonus point win will advance Australia into the Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter-finals, although the Wallabies will most likely finish as Pool C runners-up unless Italy beat Ireland in Dunedin on Sunday.

If both Australia and Italy record bonus-point wins, and finish tied on the final standings, Australia will advance as the pool’s top qualifier because of their 32-6 win over Italy earlier in the tournament.

Wallabies Team To Play Russia

  • James O’Connor
  • Radike Samo
  • Adam Ashley-Cooper
  • Berrick Barnes
  • Drew Mitchell
  • Quade Cooper
  • Luke Burgess
  • Ben McCalman
  • David Pocock
  • Scott Higginbotham
  • Nathan Sharpe
  • James Horwill (captain)
  • Sekope Kepu
  • Stephen Moore
  • James Slipper

Replacements

  • Tatafu Polota Nau
  • Saia Fainga’a
  • Salesi Ma’afu
  • Rob Simmons
  • Rocky Elsom
  • Will Genia
  • Nick Phipps

by Buford Balony

 

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