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Thread: O'Connor, Brown to Start in Bledisloe II

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    O'Connor, Brown to Start in Bledisloe II

    Emirates Western Force teenager James O'Connor will start at fullback for the Wallabies against the All Blacks on Saturday night as Australia seeks to claim its first win in the 2009 Tri-Nations.

    George Smith will lead a side featuring three changes from that which lost to South Africa, after the Wallabies starting XV was named today for Saturday night’s Bledisloe Cup and Bundaberg Rum Tri Nations Series match against New Zealand.

    Adam Ashley Cooper moves from fullback to centre, which allows the 19-year-old O’Connor to make his first start in a Bledisloe Cup Test, after excelling at fullback coming off the bench, during the last 50 minutes of the match in South Africa.

    Elsewhere, European Cup winner-Rocky Elsom makes his comeback to Australian colours on the blindside flank, having finally overcome the knee injury he brought back with him on his return to Australia.

    The presence of Elsom necessitates the third change, with Richard Brown being shifted from the side to the back of the scrum in place of Wycliff Palu.

    Brown played his first eight Tests for Australia as a No 8, before being switched to the side of the scrum for the opening two matches of the Tri Nations to accommodate the return from injury of Palu.

    Elsom returned to Australia with the Barbarians at the end of May, but was unable to play due to bruising in his knee which has kept the 26-year-old on the sideline since. He was player of the final in Leinster’s historic European Cup win over Leicester at the end of the Northern Hemisphere winter

    Saturday night will be his 41st Test, but his first since the deciding game of last year’s Tri Nations at Brisbane.

    “While he hasn’t been able to get a game in, Rocky has done the work to get back up to speed. We are satisfied that he is good to go,” Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says.

    “It is a big ask of him to make his comeback in a Bledisloe Cup and Tri Nations Test, but that’s the reality of our schedule, and is the sort of challenge he thrives on.”

    Deans said the decisions to relocate Brown to No 8, while moving Ashley-Cooper to centre, with O’Connor starting at fullback; were form-related choices.

    The decision to start O’Connor was not considered a risk, he said, based on the way the teenaged Western Force back had performed in South Africa.

    “He showed in Cape Town that he was quite capable of handling himself at this level,” Deans says.

    “The pressure there, given the circumstance in which James entered the game [Australia was 10-20 down and had just lost skipper Stirling Mortlock to injury], was as great then as it could be, and he acquitted himself well.

    “As did Adam, when he moved into centre after Stirling was injured. Saturday is another good opportunity for him in the midfield.”

    Australia beat New Zealand 34-19 in the corresponding Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup clash last year in Sydney. Eleven of the starting XV from that night have been selected again today although the team has an entirely new three-quarter line in the backline [fullback, wings and centre] as well as a different No 8.

    Australia was led on that occasion, as it will be on Saturday night, by Smith, who became Australia’s 75th Test captain when he led the Qantas Wallabies to victory over Canada at Bordeaux during the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

    Smith has subsequently led his country on three occasions during Deans’ term as Qantas Wallabies coach, for wins over New Zealand and the Barbarians last year, and Italy at Melbourne earlier in 2009.

    “George has filled the role before in similar circumstances and is not fazed by it,” Deans says.

    “He’s been there before, and been successful. That level of experience is going to be crucial on Saturday night, especially when you look at the depth of experience [in the All Blacks] that will be coming back at us the other way!”

    While Australia conceded just two tries during its away-from-home losses to New Zealand (16-22) and South Africa (17-29) to open the competition; Deans says his men will have to “raise the bar” in order to square up this year’s Bledisloe Cup series.

    “We’ve come up short twice now, and we need to work harder and be more precise in what we do, both collectively and as individuals,” he says.

    “Obviously discipline has been an area of concern. It is something we have addressed, but it is not the only aspect of our play that we have looked at. We need to be diligent in all aspects of our performance to give ourselves the best opportunity to get home.”

    While Australia currently sits at the bottom of the Bundaberg Rum Tri Nations standings, it is the last team to have had a home game.

    That changes this weekend.

    Saturday night is the first leg of three consecutive weekends where Australian fans can enjoy the highest quality rugby on home soil, with the Wallabies entertaining the Springboks in Perth and Brisbane for Mandela Trophy matches on successive Saturday’s following the season’s second Bledisloe Cup fixture.

    The Wallabies team to play New Zealand in the Bundaberg Rum Tri Nations Series and Bledisloe Cup at ANZ Stadium, Sydney on Saturday 22 August, 6pm kick off (AWST), is:

    1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
    2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
    3. Al Baxter (NSW Waratahs)
    4. James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
    5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)
    6. Rocky Elsom (Brumbies)
    7. George Smith (Brumbies, captain)
    8. Richard Brown (Western Force)

    9. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
    10. Matt Giteau (Western Force)
    11. Drew Mitchell (Western Force)
    12. Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds)
    13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)
    14. Lachie Turner (Waratahs)
    15. James O’Connor (Western Force)

    Run on reserves:

    16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)
    17. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
    18. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
    19. David Pocock (Western Force)
    20. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)
    21. Ryan Cross (Western Force)
    22. Peter Hynes (Queensland Reds)
    Australia v New Zealand @ Sydney – Historical Notes

    • This is the 158th match of a trans-Tasman rivalry that dates back to 1903 when New Zealand won the inaugural meeting 22-3 in Sydney.
    • Of the 157 games played between the two nations, New Zealand has won 107 and Australia 45, with five draws – the most recent of which occurred 20 years ago, 19-19 in 1988.
    • This is the 50th trans-Tasman Test to be hosted in Sydney. New Zealand has prevailed on 29 occasions, and Australia 18, while two others were drawn.
    • The inaugural Test between the two nations at ANZ Stadium was held in 1999, when Australia scored a 28-7 victory.
    • The ground has hosted eight Bledisloe Cup Tests, with Australia recording five wins to New Zealand’s three. Australia also won the 2003 Rugby World Cup semi-final between the two teams which was held at the venue. The Bledisloe Cup was not at stake in that match.
    • Saturday night represents the 26th Test match to have been played by the Qantas Wallabies at the Olympic Stadium since rugby union debuted at the ground when Australia beat England 22-15 in 1999.
    • Australia’s return from Tests at Homebush Bay currently stands at 21 wins and four defeats with England (2003 Rugby World Cup final) and New Zealand (2000, 2003 & 2005) the only visiting sides to have prevailed at the venue.
    • The Bledisloe Cup was donated by the then Governor General of New Zealand, Lord Bledisloe, for competition between the two countries in 1931.
    • Australia won the trophy for the first time in 1934, beating New Zealand 25-11 in Sydney.
    • In playing his 22nd Test against the All Blacks, George Smith matches the career tally of appearances against that nation achieved by Stephen Larkham and Phil Kearns. After Saturday night, only three players from any country – and they are all Australians: David Campese (29), George Gregan (27) and Tim Horan (23) – will have played more Tests against New Zealand.

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    Champion Tazzmania's Avatar
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    Great to see Brown, O Connor and Sharpe still in the starting 15, and Cross back on the bench with Pocock.

    Big Wraps for Brown for unseating Palu in Deans books, and happy to see Pocock ahead of Waugh and now also Palu

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    The Force Onwards and Upwards

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    Legend Contributor Thequeerone's Avatar
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    Kinda -hoped for this backrow lineup - reckon Deans is beginging to sort out who is who - major congrats to all the lads

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    Champion Contributor sandgroperrugby's Avatar
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    Its a case of where is Palu, at least brown is always in the thick of it even if he is getting pinged for being a naughty boy. Brown seems to have made a niche as a pain in the arse for opposing teams which is good but gees he must cope some stick of off opposing teams because of it. Imagine stirring Bakkies Botha up and then getting tackled by him a couple of minutes later!!!

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    Good on the Force players, I thought Sharpie might have got benched after the lineout debacle last week.

    I posted this on the roar and reckon LB is dead set got something on Deans; "Is Deans sticking with crap looopy 1-2step pass Burgess instead of nostep accurate bullet pass Genia????? Deans must be smoking some of that Kiwi whacky bakky"

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    Champion KenyaQuin's Avatar
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    Go on ABs..smash those Wallaby softies (but, congrats to the Force boys who made it to the team and I hope its not your fault that the Wallabies get smacked..won't mind if its Gits', Mitchell's or Lukey's fault or better still, their collective fault ).

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    Last edited by KenyaQuin; 18-08-09 at 15:56.

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    yeah, hopefully genia comes on a little earlier, he did well last game.

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    Veteran mudskipper's Avatar
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    Good for Brownie... he has won his Wallabies spot with good on field hard work,,, Go hard don't leave anything for the last 20 minutes... Palu can take over then...

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    Did you even read that team sheet?
    Posted via Mobile Device

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    Veteran mudskipper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    Did you even read that team sheet?
    Posted via Mobile Device
    No i'm in a hurry BUT... What the f*** no Palu!.... Well Brownie got to do the hard 80 minutes...No fading in the last 15 minutes Brownie... However i think he got it in him... Well I hope he got it in him... Wallabies are a little thin on the bench...

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    Veteran force addict's Avatar
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    who cares about palu. he's been off his game for years

    Brownie however, will carve up the field

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    Be There. Be Heard. Be The Force Behind The Force

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    Legend Contributor Thequeerone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by retiredrucker View Post
    Good on the Force players, I thought Sharpie might have got benched after the lineout debacle last week.

    I posted this on the roar and reckon LB is dead set got something on Deans; "Is Deans sticking with crap looopy 1-2step pass Burgess instead of nostep accurate bullet pass Genia????? Deans must be smoking some of that Kiwi whacky bakky"

    Suspect that this is the true start of the Deans era - he built success at the Crusaders on a stable team that knew how to play together and with only a couple of super world class players i.e. Carter and McCaw - it's a team game and the TEAM are the one's that can actually win it.

    Not sure that we have the right backline combo yet - but it will be interesting to see who assumes leadership w/o Mortlock there.

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    Veteran robyn <3's Avatar
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    I like it. Back row looks fantastic. Our looseforward combo is drool-worth. Big thumbsup to Crossy - I hope he gets some decent game time. I wonder how Barnes and AAC work together - they wouldn't have played together like that before. But it looks like a winning team on paper. Lets hope they can make it happen!

    Burgess is my main concern. Even problem. He should be on the bench and Sheenan should be starting. Another game like last two and I'll explode.

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    A kick in this game is like a rather nasty alcoholic shooter, only as good as it's chaser...
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    Veteran Contributor The EnForcer's Avatar
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    Looks good, but would have gone AAC FB and Cross outside centre. IMHO Joc's good but still needs time.

    Palu, he has never been consistant and that has always bothered me.

    Waugh, always liked his playing even though he speaks shit.....maybe the end for him but the new boys are in town now!

    Go The Wallabies!

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    Just happy to be here

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    Veteran zimeric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robyn <3 View Post
    Burgess is my main concern. Even problem. He should be on the bench and Sheenan should be starting. Another game like last two and I'll explode.

    Robyn you speak much truth there! im happy with the rest of the team except Burgess he doesnt impress me, he never has.. they shouldve had pocket rocket Genia in there starting and Valentine as reserve.

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