Australia v Italy, Melbourne
Deans rings the changes for Italy encounter
June 16, 2009
George Smith, player portrait, June 3, 2008
Smith will captain the Wallabies against Italy © Getty Images

Australia have changed over half their side for this weekend's second Test against Italy with captain Stirling Mortlock rested.

Veteran flanker George Smith will lead the side for only the third time after coach Robbie Deans made eight changes. The Wallabies have reshuffled their backline with fly-half Matt Giteau on the bench and Drew Mitchell rested. Wing Peter Hynes, outside centre Ryan Cross and inside centre Quade Cooper make the XV and Berrick Barnes moves from centre to fly-half.

There are also five changes in the pack with an entirely new front-row in terms of personnel. Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and prop Ben Alexander will start after coming off the bench last weekend in Canberra with prop Pek Cowan making his Test debut.

David Pocock and Peter Kimlin are brought in as flankers while Smith will switch to No.8, Dean Mumm will move to lock and Nathan Sharpe will be on the bench.

Australian coach Robbie Deans was keen to point out the Wallabies would not be underestimating the Italians in Melbourne despite making so many changes.

"They (Italy) have shown in their last two test matches against us that they are not too far off taking out a major nation," Deans said.

In the past the Australians have been critical of teams bringing weak sides on tour but Deans was quick to defend his selection policy for this Test.

"We believe in the whole group," he said. "That is why we selected them. The guys who are coming in this week are good to go. Most of them showed what they could do last weekend in Canberra when they added to our performance after coming on from the bench."

The former All Black also pointed out his desire to spread the workload on the current squad and give other players a chance to play.

"Not only would it be unrealistic to focus that entire work load on the same players, a policy like that would also deny us the opportunity to develop others," he said.

Australia: James O'Connor, Lachie Turner, Ryan Cross, Quade Cooper, Peter Hynes, Berrick Barnes, Luke Burgess, George Smith (capt), David Pocock, Peter Kimlin, Dean Mumm, James Horwill, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pekahou Cowan

Replacements: Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, Phil Waugh, Josh Valentine, Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper


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