Test regulars Lote Tuqiri, Wycliff Palu and Nathan Sharpe have returned to the Wallabies starting lineup when Australia named its team on Wednesday for its opening Tri-Nations rugby match against South Africa.
All three players missed Australia’s last start, a 40-10 win two weeks ago over France in Brisbane. South Africa, 1-1 in the Tri-Nations competition so far, is coming off a 30-28 win last weekend over New Zealand at Dunedin.
Tuqiri has recovered from a knee injury, Palu a shoulder complaint and Sharpe a groin injury in time for Saturday’s match.
“They’re all looking good and ready to go again,” Australia coach Robbie Deans said. “We needed to be absolutely certain that they were right, because the South Africans are going to be the most physical opponent we have played so far.”
Sharpe, captain of the domestic Western Force Super 14 side, will return into the second row. Lock Dan Vickerman was ruled unfit after being troubled by an ankle complaint.
Vickerman will play club rugby in Sydney again this weekend. Queensland Reds forward Hugh McMeniman, who was on the bench in the second French test, has retained his place in the match-day squad.
Sharpe is one of four Force players to have made the side, along with flyhalf Matt Giteau and run-on reserves Ryan Cross and Drew Mitchell.
ACT Brumbies flanker George Smith will play in his 87th test Saturday, putting him beyond the career totals of former Wallaby captain John Eales and Joe Roff, and making him the most capped forward in Australian history.
Australia and World Cup-champion South Africa have met 65 times, with South Africa winning 40, Australia 24, along with one draw.
Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Hynes, Stirling Mortlock (captain), Berrick Barnes, Lote Tuqiri, Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Al Baxter, James Horwill, Nathan Sharpe, Rocky Elsom, George Smith, Wycliff Palu. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Matt Dunning, Hugh McMeniman, Phil Waugh, Sam Cordingley, Ryan Cross, Drew Mitchell.Tweet