Italy v Australia
Deans and Mallett ring the changes for Padua clash
November 6, 2008
Nick Mallett the Italy coach prior to the RBS Six Nations Championship match between Italy and Scotland at the Stadio Flaminio, Rome, Italy, March 15, 2008.
Italy boss Nick Mallett has continued to experiment with his back-line © Getty Images
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Teams: Australia | Italy

The return of Timana Tahu at inside centre is one of eight personnel changes to the Wallabies for Saturday's Test against Italy in Padova.

Tahu, who has not featured for the Wallabies since making his run on debut against South Africa at Johannesburg in August, has been paired in the midfield alongside tour skipper Stirling Mortlock, who returns to centre after appearing at inside centre against the All Blacks in Hong Kong last week.

The selection of wingers Lachie Turner and Digby Ioane are among the other changes to the formation from last week, with Berrick Barnes also appearing for the first time in 2008 at flyhalf. He had previously played all of his internationals for the season from inside centre.

Barnes made a successful return after an injury enforced lay-off in the second half against the All Blacks last week. No.8 Richard Brown, lock Mark Chisholm, hooker Stephen Moore and utility Dean Mumm are the only players to retain their starting positions from last week among the forwards.

Phil Waugh starts on the openside flank in place of George Smith, props Matt Dunning and Ben Alexander come in for Al Baxter and Benn Robinson respectively, while a change in the second row sees Hugh McMeniman make his return from an ankle injury in the place of Nathan Sharpe. The make up of the bench sees regular fly-half Matt Giteau selected to cover scrum-half, the position he predominantly occupied for the Wallabies last year.

No.8 Wycliff Palu returns from injury, after straining the medial ligament of his knee in the Tri-Nations decider against the All Blacks at Brisbane in early September, while first-time tourists: prop Sekope Kepu, fullback James O'Connor and flyhalf Quade Cooper have all been selected. The trio will follow in the footsteps of this year's Australia Under-20 captain David Pocock, who last weekend became the 829th Wallaby, should they be called on to take the field against the Azzurri.

At 18 years and 126 days, O'Connor would become the second youngest player ever to play for Australia if he takes the field on Saturday. The youngest ever Wallaby was Queensland winger Brian Ford, who was 18 years and 90 days when he appeared against New Zealand at Brisbane in 1957.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says his side is not underestimating the Italians, indicating that the changes reflected both a desire to manage resources, as well as injecting fresh enthusiasm. "We've got a demanding schedule ahead of us on this tour so sharing the work load is essential. We selected the touring party with that in mind," he said. "It's not a case of under-estimating the Italians - they will present arguably the strongest forward pack we face on this trip, but the guys we have selected have worked hard, and we're confident they can do the job."

Deans added that the Wallabies are not dwelling on last weekend's narrow loss to the All Blacks in Hong Kong. "We've taken what value we can out of that experience and moved on," he said.

The Wallabies arrived in northern Italy on Sunday night after an arduous 24-hour journey from Hong Kong, via London.

Italy coach Nick Mallett has handed a start at scrum-half to Pablo Canavosio for Saturday's Test against Australia in Padua.

Canovosio has 20 Italy caps mainly on the wing, but has done enough to secure a start after deputising at half-back on Italy's summer tour to South Africa and Argentina.

Mallett continues to experiment with Andrea Masi, starting the centre at full-back after trying him at fly-half for the 2008 Six Nations. Young Treviso fly-half Andrea marcato, impressive from full-back in the Six Nations, starts at 10. Experienced centre Mirco Bergamasco starts on the wing.

Italy: Andrea Masi, Kaine Robertson, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco, Andrea Marcato, Pablo Canavosio, Sergio Parisse (c), Mauro Bergamasco, Josh Sole, Marco Bortolami, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Carlos Nieto, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Salvatore Perugini

Replacements: Fabio Ongaro, Matias Aguero, Tommaso Reato, Alessandro Zanni, Giulio Toniolatti, Luciano Orquera, Matteo Pratichetti

Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies), Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs), Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies, captain), Timana Tahu (NSW Waratahs), Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds), Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds), Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs), Richard Brown (Western Force), Phil Waugh (NSW Waratahs), Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs), Hugh McMeniman (Queensland Reds), Mark Chisholm (Brumbies), Matt Dunning (NSW Waratahs), Stephen Moore (Queensland Reds), Ben Alexander (Brumbies)

Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs), Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs), David Pocock (Western Force), Matt Giteau (Western Force), Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds), James O'Connor (Western Force)

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)

Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Marius Jonker (South Africa)
TMO: David Changleng (Scotland)
Citing Commisioner: John West (Ireland)


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