Australian flanker Rocky Elsom who had his appeal against a one-match suspension for pulling down Victor Matfield at a lineout upheld, has been included in the Wallaby side to play the Springboks in Johannesburg.
News 24 reports that Dual international Timana Tahu will start in a rugby union international for the first time after being named at inside centre.
The Melbourne-born 27-year-old, who won a national rugby league premiership and was capped at both state of origin and international level in the 13-man code, has been included in place of the injured Berrick Barnes.
His selection represents one of five changes to the Wallabies starting XV from that which annexed Australia’s first win on South African soil in eight years, last weekend at Durban.
The other changes see fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper regain his position from Drew Mitchell after missing the tour opener due to his broken hand, Hugh McMeniman returns in the second row for the injured Daniel Vickerman, while Phil Waugh and Tatafu Polota-Nau come in for George Smith and Stephen Moore respectively.
Mitchell, Smith and Moore have all been included among the run on reserves as the Wallabies coaches have looked to spread the work load amongst the playing staff.
Although he acknowledged that the changes could be perceived as showing a lack of respect towards the weekend’s opponents, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans insists that this is not the case.
“If anything, in fact it’s the opposite,” Deans says.
It’s because of the respect we have for them, and the enormity of the challenge we have in front of us trying to win back-to-back South African Test matches, and in Johannesburg for the first time in so long, that we feel we need to bring in some fresh legs.
“Last weekend (in Durban) took a lot out of our guys as it did some of theirs. We will need the impetus that the fresh legs we’ve included today will bring.”
Australia have only once previously won consecutive Tests in Africa. That was 45 years ago, when the second victory was achieved 11-9 at the ground formerly known as Ellis Park. The 1963 success remains Australia’s only win (from nine attempts) in Johannesburg.
Deans acknowledges the Wallabies’ poor previous history at Ellis Park and the likely South African response due to the current circumstance last year’s Rugby World Cup-winning side finds itself in.
“They (South Africa) have got one more shot at it in this year’s Tri-Nations,” Deans says.
“If they can take it, they can park the rest of the tournament and move forward a lot more positively towards their end of season tour preparations. Ask yourself how you’d feel in their position” There?s no doubt they’ll be up for it.”
Secured the Mandela Trophy
Nor is Deans prepared to dismiss Saturday’s relevance in the overall context of the Tri-Nations tournament, even though that title will not now be determined until after Australia meet New Zealand in Brisbane on September 13.
Australia have also already secured the Mandela Trophy, which is played for by the two teams, having won the matches in Perth and Durban.
“Saturday still has huge significance – both in terms of momentum in the Tri-Nations; but also as far as the development of our group as a whole is concerned,” Deans says.
“By winning in Durban last weekend, we have presented ourselves with an opportunity – to win back-to-back Test matches in South Africa – which is not only rare in an Australian context; but is also historically significant across the game in general.
“We owe it to ourselves, and to everyone who is associated with Australian rugby, to make the most of that opportunity.”
The Wallabies team to play South Africa at Coca Cola Park (formerly Ellis Park) in Johannesburg, on Saturday August 30 (15:00 kick-off, local time), is:
Starting XV: 15. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Peter Hynes, 13. Stirling Mortlock(c), 12. Timana Tahu, 11. Lote Tuqiri, 10. Matt Giteau, 9. Sam Cordingley, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Phil Waugh, 6. Rocky Elsom, 5. Hugh McMeniman, 4. James Horwill, 3. Matt Dunning, 2.Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson.
Reserves: 16. Stephen Moore, 7. Al Baxter, 18. Dean Mumm, 19. George Smith, 20. Brett Sheehan 21. Ryan Cross, 22. Drew Mitchell.Tweet