Wallabies team named, Pumas team to follow…
The Wallabies travel to Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in Rosario, Argentina to take on the Pumas in the final match of the 2012 Rugby Championship. The All Blacks wrapped up the tournament last weekend, but there is still plenty to play for. Argentina are desperate for a maiden Rugby Championship victory, having come close twice so far, with a four point loss to the Wallabies and a draw with the Springboks. Australia will be equally desperate. They need a victory to keep the wolves in Australia at bay. The team and coach Robbie Deans has come in for scathing criticism in the Australia media, with injured flyhalf Quade Cooper adding fuel to the fire, calling the team environment ‘toxic’. Australia lost the IRB world number two ranking following the loss to the Springboks last week.
In a stunning reversal, Argentina enter the match as favourites, despite the 40 point loss to the All Blacks last week. Australia’s patchy form and stunning injury toll, as well as Argentina’s earlier efforts away from home in the Championship, leave this game on a knife-edge.
Western Force winger Nick Cummins will make his debut for the Wallabies against the Pumas in the final round of the Rugby Championship. In an injury-ravaged season, Cummins becomes the 38th player to wear the green and gold in the ten tests so far this year, as well as the 11th new cap of the season. Meanwhile, Berrick Barnes has been ruled out due to injury, leaving only captain Nathan Sharpe and Digby Ioane as the only Wallabies to feature in every test of the year. Adam Ashley-Cooper will also miss the game following his nasty concussion in a failed try-saving tackle attempt against the Springboks.
Mike Harris comes back into the side to take over from Berrick Barnes. He will be the fifth fullback the Wallabies have used this year.
There are three other changes to the side that was decimated by the Springboks, the rest coming in the forwards. Australia coach Robbie Deans has brought together his biggest possible pack to try and take on the Pumas. Sitaleki Timani starts at number six, pushing Dave Dennis to the bench. James Slipper, last week’s reserve prop swaps places with loosehead Benn Robinson. After an embarrassing substitution mix-up last weekend that resulted in Australia having to ply the final ten minutes with only 14 players, both the officials and Wallaby management will be hoping for better this week.
The reshuffled pack now has four players who have played lock at international level. Locking combination Nathan Sharpe and Kane Douglas have the backup of the 2.02 m Timani and 1.97m Radike Samo in the loose forwards.
Deans may be hoping that size will provide some substitute for experience, with the fresh faced starting 15 boasting only 345 test caps, 110 of them provided by Nathan Sharpe. Incidentally, Sharpe will take over from George Smith as the most capped Wallaby forward.
Australia and Argentina have played each other 18 times, with the Wallabies winning 13, Argentina 4, with one draw. Thee of the Pumas wins were in Argentina.
Wallabies Team to play Pumas:
Mike Harris, Nick Cummins, Ben Tapuai, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps; Radike Samo, Michael Hooper, Sitaleki Timani, Nathan Sharpe (captain) , Kane Douglas, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper
Reserves: Saia Fainga’a, Benn Robinson, Dave Dennis, Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Dominic Shipperley.
Pumas Team to play Wallabies: