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. Freebets.com 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