Australia name team to take on the Lions

Australia have recalled veteran flanker George Smith for his first test match in four years. He is the Wallabies’ third-highest capped player of all time, and featured heavily in the 2001 series when the Wallabies came back from 1-0 down to win the series, just as they will be trying to do on Saturday.

The only other change comes on the bench, with Deans naming a six forwards to two backs split in anticipation of another tough forward battle. Western Force loose forward Ben McCalman comes in at the expense of centre Rob Horne. have Australia as slight favourites, adding “The momentum of their win in the second Test gives them the edge and the Lions will have to pull out a huge performance to win their first series in 16 years.

Robbie Deans had high praise for the recalled George Smith. “He’s class, isn’t he?” said the coach. “To have achieved what George has throughout his career, and return to play at the highest level, after such a long break, is a testament to the quality of the man, both as a person, and as a player.

“The decision to go with George in no way reflects any dissatisfaction with the way either Michael or Liam have played,” Deans added. “But it has been a tough series – the first two games have been rugged, especially at the breakdown, and we feel that the combination of experience and fresh legs that George brings is the right way to go for this week.

“His expertise in the contact zone, where timing, judgement and physicality is everything, is going to be critical. Being able to call on George allows us to lighten the load on Michael while retaining the ability to inject him into what is sure to be a fast-paced and highly physical contest.”

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 George Smith, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 James Horwill (captain), 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 James Slippper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Michael Hooper, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Jesse Mogg

20 thoughts on “Australia name team to take on the Lions

  1. Very brave call. Almost the opposite of us dropping BOD. Hooper is an excellent player, but if Smith plays well then SOB needs a great game!

    1. Looks like they’re really taking advantage of the fact we have no breakdown specialist in the backrow.

  2. Wow, a 6/2 split is a brave call given how many of the Aus backs dropped in the 1st test AND given the boys they are going to have running at them.

  3. I am loving the run on XV, although the one half back, three centres model is not pleasing. Hopefully JO’C will stand f’ken much flatter in attack this time.

    The first twenty minutes will be toughest for the Wallabies. If we survive that only a few points down and no injuries, we should be ok.

    This reserves bench is a gamble. McCalman is a controversial choice over McMeniman and Kimlin. Mobility is what Dingo has gone for there.

    Our backline is pretty adaptable, Mogg is class and has a booming left boot. One injury and he can come in to fullback and everyone else can shuffle about.

    The most bizarre scenario could be if AAC goes down. Tomane is a decent 13. But then we put our fly half on the wing?

    Two injuries in the backline – we have Hooper in the centres again. Not ideal given it was his inexperience that let in the Cuthbert try in test 1. Other than that he did pretty well for 35 mins!

    Like the last two tests, Deans is expecting the last twenty minutes to be open, broken play. That will suit this bench fine. If replacements are forced before the 60min mark, it could be trouble.

  4. Agreed Brighty. Its not going to take much for them to have problems if they rack up a couple of injuries. Although perhaps Deans actually views Hooper as a centre now

    George Smith is a massive call. Yes he was an excellent player but the key word is was. He’s not played an international for four years and almost all that time was spent playing in Japan. Furthermore, he’s been out with a knee injury.

    Is he really up to the intensity of test match rugby? Let alone the deciding match of a Lions series?

    The Lions back row will need to get on top of him quickly. If he starts to doing well it will boost the morale of the aussies as a whole

    1. I think he is, he’s been excellent for the Brumbies so far, Pocock got injured but they haven’t really missed him yet.

      1. I would argue that playing in the deciding test match in a lions series, with a European ref and with the breakdown having been an issue so far, is rather a massive step up from playing for the Brumbies.

        1. Absolutely, I just mean from a playing point of view he is up to it, he’s been there and done that, I don’t think it’s that big a risk.

  5. I would argue that playing in the deciding test match in a lions series, with a European ref and with the breakdown having been an issue so far, is rather a massive step up from playing for the Brumbies.

      1. Haven’t 5 super rugby sides faced the lions this tour?

        Aside from the scratch side put out against the Brumbies it’s been pretty one sided, doesn’t suggest that super rugby is a comparable standard to international really?

        1. In most matches it was pretty close until the reserves came on.

          Test veterans vs back up bench warmers!

      2. Not recently

        But if you care to point me towards the Brumbies (or any other Super Rugby) game that had 80,000 people at the stadium, millions watching worldwide, articles across the sports pages of most national newspapers, controversy over the breakdown, a northern hemisphere ref and along with the above, happened once every 12 years and was the deciding game of a three match rubber, then I will agree with you.

        If you can’t point me towards such a game, well, then your comment can be classed as being somewhat silly

  6. Thought that Hooper has been excellent so far – very harsh to drop him. As with our team, we’ll know on Saturday who got it right.

  7. I wouldn’t worry about George Smith performing at this level on Saturday.

    But then again, I’m Australian!

    He will have an enormous impact.

      1. You can say that after Saturday but currently he is an ex-world class player who hasn’t played at a world-class level for 4 years

    1. It’s a shame Warburton is injured. Pre-tour the Warburton Vs Smith match up was one I was most looking forward to and one I feared Smith would shade.

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