With the Australian and New Zealand teams being announced, the Aussie Robbie Deans selection policy seems pretty straight forward so far: stuff up and you go, no risks come big game time. So as per this ethos he’s made 5 changes for the Brisbane Tri-Nations decider this Saturday.
Everyone’s favourite scapegoat and mungo without a defensive clue, Timana Tahu, along with the incredible hooker who can’t throw, Polota-Nau, have both found themselves back in Sydney this weekend. Instead, Cross gets a starting run (presumably going to 13, Mortlock to 12), Moore runs on at rake and the older hand Frier rides the pine.
Dunning bends the bench and this week Nathan Sharpe promised he’d learned his lesson in the press and adds his experience back into the second row alongside Horwill. Waugh swaps with Smith and interestingly, Mumm loses out to McMenimen for the bench and Richard Brown lines up for his potential first cap.
Vickerman, Barnes and Burgess were “not considered for selection”. It sounds like Barnes’ shoulder just wasn’t going to make it and one less unknown made things easier.
These selections, along with the 5-2 bench gives an indication of where AntipoDeans thinks this game is going to be won or lost: the breakdown. With Sheehan and Mitchell being the only back cover, we need to pray Giteau doesn’t tackle with his head on Saturday.
For the All Blacks it’s an unchanged team since their last 2 tournament matches and unfortunately for the Wallabies Carter, McCaw, and Sivivatu are all fit and healthy. The ABs have gone for a 4-3 split on thier bench.
Adam Ashley-Cooper; Peter Hynes, Ryan Cross, Stirling Mortlock (c), Lote Tuqiri; Matt Giteau, Sam Cordingley; Wycliff Palu, George Smith, Rocky Elsom; Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill; Al Baxter, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Adam Freier, Matt Dunning, Hugh McMeniman, Phil Waugh, Richard Brown, Brett Sheehan, Drew Mitchell.
Mils Muliaina; Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu; Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan; Rodney So’oialo, Richie McCaw (c), Jerome Kaino; Ali Williams, Brad Thorn; Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, John Afoa/Neemia Tialata, Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Stephen Donald, Isaia Toeava.