Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will solve the remaining riddles over his back row and fullback dilemmas on Thursday when he unveils the squad for the two Tri Nations Tests in South Africa.
RugbyHeaven Aus reports that a 28-man squad for the matches in Durban on August 23 and Johannesburg on August 30 will be finalised after injury assessments.
A 30-man squad will assemble in Sydney for a two-day camp before heading to South Africa on Friday morning.
The two lingering injury concerns are breakaway Rocky Elsom and fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Elsom missed the New Zealand Test just over a week ago, with a ligament strain in his left foot. Ashley-Cooper, who scored Australia’s only try in that 10-39 loss to the All Blacks, had surgery last Tuesday on a hand he broke in the Eden Park Test.
Western Force outside back Drew Mitchell is looming as the likely replacement should Ashley-Cooper not be fit for the first South African Test.
Elsom and Ashley-Cooper believe they should be right for at least the second game to be played at Ellis Park. But irrespective of Elsom’s fitness, Deans could still reshuffle the back row.
Australia struggled at the breakdowns and in the lineouts against New Zealand and Deans could go for a taller back-rower like Hugh McMeniman or Dean Mumm, rather than stick with two specialist flyers in George Smith and Phil Waugh.
World champions South Africa, who thrashed Argentina 63-9 last weekend, play New Zealand in Cape Town on Saturday and the Tri Nations title is still very much up for grabs, with the All Blacks leading on 10 points.
However, the Kiwis have played one more game than both Australia (nine points) and South Africa (five).Tweet