Tough for Wallabies

WALLABIES coach Robbie Deans has defended the character of his side following Australia’s ”inexcusable” loss to France last week.

Deans said he was confident the Wallabies could absorb the double loss of half their locks and hard-running centre Pat McCabe and make amends this weekend for their ”poor” showing in a 33-6 loss to the French in Paris.

”We’ve had to overcome some pretty big hurdles, things also haven’t been perfect either,” he said. ”Last week’s performance was poor, we’re making no excuses about that.”

Former winger David Campese, lambasted the Wallabies for their inability to score tries and called for Deans to be sacked, saying: ”Deans has destroyed Australian rugby and I want him to go.”

Deans said questions about the side’s character in the wake of a roller-coaster season hurt.

”No one enjoys that,” he said. ”The team’s also shown a lot of character along the way and that’s where last week’s performance was out of character, inexcusable. We’ve got to get on with it and address it.”

Injuries to Kane Douglas and McCabe, as well as Rob Simmons’ eight-week suspension, have robbed the Wallabies of a solid preparation.

McCabe was ruled out on Wednesday with neck stiffness, which he sustained during the France Test and aggravated during training.

Deans said the ”best-case scenario” was a one-match rest for the centre, who has been one of the few consistent presences in the back line.

There is also a full-blown locks crisis in the Wallabies after the International Rugby Board handed Queensland Reds lock Simmons an eight-week ban for a lifting tackle on France flanker Yannick Nyanga.

Deans said the ARU had not decided whether it would appeal.

”We’re disappointed in the decision but I haven’t had the opportunity to read the decision yet and obviously we’ll do that before we settle on [whether] that’s the end of the matter or not,” he said.

Queensland Reds centre Ben Tapuai has been moved in to replace McCabe at No. 12, with Adam Ashley-Cooper starting in his pet position, outside centre, after playing on the wing against France.

Berrick Barnes will start at fullback, replacing Mike Harris, while Digby Ioane returns to the starting line up on the wing with Nick Cummins.

Kurtley Beale reprises the playmaking role and Nick Phipps will once again start inside him at half-back, with Brett Sheehan named on the bench.

The only changes made in the forwards are Ben Alexander, who replaces Sekope Kepu at tight head prop, and Sitaleki Timani, who returns to the second row after missing the France Test.

Deans named a 5-3 bench, with props James Slipper and Kepu, hooker Stephen Moore, back rowers Radike Samo and Liam Gill, Sheehan, Drew Mitchell and Mike Harris the back-up in the back line.

Wallabies: Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ben Tapuai, Nick Cummins, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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