Wallaby greats set for emotional farewell
July 4, 2007

Wallabies Coach John Connolly has today announced his team to take on South Africa in the return Tri Nations clash in Sydney this Saturday night.

Two of Australia's sporting icons will bid farewell to Australian fans in their final appearance for the Wallabies on home soil.

The 132-Test veteran George Gregan and his long-time halves counterpart Stephen Larkham will play their final Test in Australia in the Telstra Stadium clash, signaling the end of an era for the Wallabies as the star duo continue their path to a World Cup swansong.

On what will be an historic night for Australian sport, Larkham will play his 100th Test for the Wallabies and in doing so will become the third player to register a century of Test caps for Australia alongside Gregan (132) and David Campese (101).

Connolly has also made changes to his team, having three players ruled out through injury and suspension and introducing lock Hugh McMeniman to the reserves bench.

It is a long-awaited return to the Test arena for the injury-plagued 23-year-old, who is in line to play his first match in the Wallabies jersey since the 2005 Spring Tour.

Number 8 Wycliff Palu will learn of the extent of his shoulder injury later in the week, leaving the door ajar for Stephen Hoiles to make his debut in the Wallabies starting XV.

Hoiles' place on the reserves bench has been filled by David Lyons, who rejoined the squad after completing the Pacific Nations Cup with Australia A.

Hooker Stephen Moore succumbed to a sternum injury, allowing Adam Freier the opportunity to make his first appearance in the starting lineup this season.

Freier's elevation to the starting XV gives Queensland and Australia A hooker Sean Hardman the chance to win his third Test cap for the Wallabies after being called into the squad on standby for the injured Moore on Monday.

Wing Lote Tuqiri is serving a two-match suspension for breaching team standards and his place on the right wing has been awarded to Mark Gerrard, while Drew Mitchell returns to the side on the reserves bench.

Connolly expects an emotional home farewell for Gregan and Larkham.

"They are virtually icons of Australian sport," said Connolly.

"We've just been so blessed in this country to have such incredibly consistent players playing in two of our key positions over the past 12 or so years," he said.

"They are two great warriors of Australian sport and I'm sure they will receive a fitting farewell from the supporters on Saturday night in what is such a crucial Test for the Wallabies."

The Wallabies can retain the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate with a win on Saturday night while South Africa has not defeated Australia in Australia since 2005 and has not won in Sydney since 1993.

Wallabies Team:
Matt Dunning
Adam Freier
Guy Shepherdson
Nathan Sharpe
Dan Vickerman
Rocky Elsom
George Smith (vc)
Stephen Hoiles
George Gregan
Stephen Larkham
Adam Ashley-Cooper
Matt Giteau
Stirling Mortlock (c)
Mark Gerrard
Julian Huxley

Sean Hardman
Al Baxter
Hugh McMeniman
David Lyons
Phil Waugh (vc)
Scott Staniforth
Drew Mitchell

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