Six members of the Western Force side from this year’s Investec Super 14 have today been named in the Qantas Wallabies squad to tackle South Africa in Saturday’s second Mandela Trophy Test of the year at Perth.
Fullback James O’Connor, centre Ryan Cross, flyhalf Matt Giteau and No 8 Richard Brown have all made the starting XV for Australia’s fourth outing of the Bundaberg Rum Tri Nations series, while flanker David Pocock and winger Drew Mitchell could be involved from the bench.
The selection of Cross, who appeared off the bench during last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney, is one of three alterations in personnel to the starting combination from that match, with the return of Mark Chisholm for his 41st Test the most notable change.
The 26-year-old Brumbies lock, who last appeared for Australia at Test level when he scored a try against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on last year’s Spring Tour, recently made his playing return for the Randwick club after dislocating his wrist during the Super 14.
Chisholm has successfully negotiated his way through two club matches, the most recent of which was last weekend, after he sustained the injury playing against the Cheetahs at Bloemfontein midway through the Super 14.
The door opened for Chisholm to return to the international stage due to the shoulder injury suffered by the Western Force skipper Nathan Sharpe last weekend against the All Blacks.
Although Sharpe misses the match, Perth fans will still get the chance to see another of their favourite sons, in the form of the talented 19-year-old O’Connor.
The teenager has recovered from the calf injury which ended his night early in Bledisloe #2, in time to retain his place in the starting line-up, for what will be the fourth starting role, and the eighth Test, of his short international career.
O’Connor proved his fitness at training this week and will now play his maiden Test on his Super 14 home ground.
There is one change to the back three, with a new winger, after Peter Hynes was rewarded for his big impression as a replacement in Sydney, by being named to start in place of Drew Mitchell.
Mitchell has been named in the reserves.
The match will be just the second start of the season, and third appearance of the Test programme, for Hynes who was last year’s Qantas Wallabies Rookie of the Year but has this term had to endure a season disrupted by injury.
The third personnel change to the starting XV sees props Ben Alexander and Al Baxter swap jobs, with Alexander starting at tighthead for just the second time this year, having earlier taken on the role against Italy in Melbourne.
The improving Brumbies front-rower, who has largely been employed on the tighthead side of the scrum this year, played the final 49 minutes of last weekend’s Test in the role after replacing Baxter, who is named on the bench.
Inside centre Berrick Barnes, who retired at halftime after taking a knock against the All Blacks, was ruled out on Tuesday.
The versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper moves to inside centre in Barnes’ absence, while Quade Cooper has been added to the bench.
The fourth of Australia’s players to be under an injury cloud after last weekend’s rugged Bledisloe clash, blindside flanker Rocky Elsom, has been passed fit to play.
The 26-year-old, who made a powerful return to the Wallabies in Sydney after not having played since May, proved his fitness for the assignment at training this morning after scans had earlier eased fears of any significant damage to his ankle.
Australia must beat South Africa to stay alive in this year’s Tri Nations and also to retain its grip on the Mandela Trophy, which has been contested on an annual basis by the two countries since 2000.
South Africa leads the current series one-nil, courtesy of its 29-17 win over the Qantas Wallabies at Cape Town last month.
If Australia can square the series in Perth, the trophy will be decided when the two teams meet again at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane seven days later.
The Qantas Wallabies team to play South Africa in the Bundaberg Rum Tri Nations Series and Mandela Trophy Test at Subiaco Oval, Perth on Saturday 29 August, is:
|15. James O’Connor||(Western Force)|
|14. Lachie Turner||(NSW Waratahs)|
|13. Ryan Cross||(Western Force)|
|12. Adam Ashley Cooper
|11. Peter Hynes||(Queensland Reds)|
|10. Matt Giteau||(Western Force)|
|9. Luke Burgess||(NSW Waratahs)|
|8. Richard Brown
|7. George Smith||(Brumbies, Captain)|
|6. Rocky Elsom||(Brumbies)|
|5. Mark Chisholm||(Brumbies)|
|4. James Horwill||(Queensland Reds)|
|3. Ben Alexander||(Brumbies)|
|2. Stephen Moore||(Brumbies)|
|1. Benn Robinson||(NSW Waratahs)|
|Run on reserves:|
|16. Tatafu Polota-Nau||(NSW Waratahs)|
|17. Al Baxter||(NSW Waratahs)|
|18. Dean Mumm||(NSW Waratahs)|
|19. David Pocock||(Western Force)|
|20. Will Genia||(Queensland Reds)|
|21. Quade Cooper||(Queensland Reds)|
|22. Drew Mitchell
Australia v South Africa @ Perth – Historical Notes
- This will be the fifth match between Australia and South Africa in Perth, following on from 1998, 2001, 2004, 2005 and last year.
- South Africa has won in Perth twice previously – 14-13 in 1998, and 22-19 four years ago.
- Australia won 30-26 in 2004 and 16-9 last year while the 2001 contest was drawn 14-14.
- Last year’s seven-point winning margin was the greatest difference between the two sides from their five games in Western Australia.
- Overall, the two countries have met on 69 occasions, with South Africa winning 42, Australia 26, as well as the one draw.
- Prior to South Africa’s readmission to international sport in 1992, Australia had won just seven of the 31 matches played.
- The scoreboard stands 19 wins to 18 in Australia’s favour, along with the draw, in the time since then.
- South Africa has prevailed only three times on Australian soil since 1992; and just twice (both in Perth) from the 15 matches of the Tri-Nations era, which kicked off in 1996.
- This is the 16th Test to have been played between the two countries on Australian soil since the Tri Nations kicked off in 1996. Australia has won 12 of the previous 15, and South Africa two, alongside the draw of 2001.
- Saturday night is the 10th Test Australia has played at Subiaco since the ground debuted as an international venue when the Qantas Wallabies played South Africa in 1998. Australia has won six, lost two and drawn one of those previous nine internationals.
- Qantas Wallabies flyhalf Matt Giteau starts the match nine short of becoming just the third Australian to surpass a century of points against South Africa. Giteau’s try at Cape Town last month was his seventh in Tests against South Africa, which tied Stirling Mortlock for the most by any player in Australia-South Africa Tests.
- South Africa has won nine of its last 10 Tests since losing 15-27 at home to Australia in Durban last year. The only defeat sustained since was a 9-28 reverse against the British & Irish Lions in the ‘dead’ third rubber of that series, when the Boks fielded a much changed side from that which had won the two earlier Tests.
- As well as the nine Tests the Qantas Wallabies have played at the ground, Subiaco Oval also hosted five Tests during the 2003 Rugby World Cup. These games featured South Africa, the eventual tournament victors England, Uruguay, Samoa and Georgia.