The Qantas Wallabies have named an unchanged line-up to contest Saturday’s James Bevan Trophy Test against Wales in Cardiff.
Qantas Wallabies Head Coach Robbie Deans has retained the same 22-man squad to the one that defeated New Zealand, 26-24, in Hong Kong last weekend. It is the first time since the Qantas Wallabies’ final Tri-Nations fixture in 2009 against New Zealand in Wellington that the Australians have been able to duplicate their side in back-to-back Tests.
Deans says “it’s fantastic” to be able to roll out the identical line-up in consecutive Tests for just the second time since taking charge of the Qantas Wallabies at the beginning of the 2008 Test season.
“I don’t know the numbers and frequency in being able to [name an identical line-up], but I know it’s not very high,” he said.
“Continuity’s good but it’s only good if you make it work. What it does do is assist the consistency of performance but that’s only off the back of consistency of preparation. By having consistent faces you are able to push on rather than continually revisiting elements that need to be covered because of a lack of history. You’re able to push on and develop what you’re doing, and push the boundaries in terms of the things you want to do.”
The Qantas Wallabies and Wales have shared results at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in recent years with the home side winning the 2008 encounter, 21-18, while the Australians completed their Grand Slam tour last year with a 33-12 victory over the Dragons.
Last year’s result featured a man-of-the-match performance from then flyhalf Matt Giteau, who will this time partner Adam Ashley-Cooper in the centres. The Qantas Wallabies playmaker has relinquished his goal-kicking duties to winger James O’Connor, who potted two conversions from as many attempts last weekend, and will endeavour to continue his try-scoring run that has extended to four tries from his three matches following his match-winning five-pointer in Hong Kong. O’Connor will be joined in the back three by winger Drew Mitchell, who returned his third try in two Hong Kong Bledisloe Cup Tests last week, and fullback Kurtley Beale.
The Queensland Reds pairing of Will Genia and Quade Cooper will start in the halves.
In the Qantas Wallabies’ forward pack, locks Nathan Sharpe and Mark Chisholm are each in line to equal David Campese’s record of eight Wallaby appearances against Wales when they run on in the Australian second row.
Captain Rocky Elsom will lead the side from the back row along with flanker David Pocock and No.8 Ben McCalman, while Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander, who completed an 80-minute performance in his first Test back from injury last week, will start in the front row.
Having provided significant impact through the second half of last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup Test, the Qantas Wallabies have retained the same bench of front rowers James Slipper (prop) and Saia Faingaa (hooker), with Dean Mumm and Richard Brown providing coverage at lock and the back row. Scrumhalf Luke Burgess, inside back Berrick Barnes and flyer Lachie Turner complete the Australian run-on reserves.
Deans says recording consecutive wins is vital in capitalising on last weekend’s result.
“Ultimately what we’re aiming for is back-to-back victories and to achieve that would be great,” he said.
“Obviously it was a fillip getting the result [against the All Blacks] last week. Critically, we need the team to recognise what it took to put ourselves in that position and not take that for granted. We need to ensure that our preparation during the week is on the money, otherwise it will start the decline in standards which will result in the decline of the performance on the weekend.
“To that end, we’ve made a start. We think we’re on task and what we’re looking for out of the game itself will be the added elements that we hadn’t previously been doing consistently, particularly with some of our decisions around when to play and when to look for field position in the last 20 minutes of the game.
“Last weekend showed a significant improvement in our decision-making which is something that we’d focused on, but we need to ensure that it doesn’t taper.”
Qantas Wallabies v Wales
James Bevan Trophy Test
Saturday, 6 November, 2010
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Time: 2.30pm (local)/1.30am (AEDT) (Sunday, 7 November)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
15. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs)
14. James O’Connor (Western Force)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)
12. Matt Giteau (Brumbies)
11. Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs)
10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)
8. Ben McCalman (Western Force)
7. David Pocock (Western Force)
6. Rocky Elsom (c) (Brumbies)
5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)
4. Mark Chisholm (Brumbies)
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
16. Saia Faingaa (Queensland Reds)
17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
18. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
19. Richard Brown (Western Force)
20. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
21. Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs)
22. Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs)