Super Rugby
Giteau dropped for South Africa Test
ESPNscrum Staff
July 19, 2011
Australia's Matt Giteau offloads against Samoa, Australia v Samoa, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia, July 17, 2011
Giteau failed to inspire his team to victory against Samoa on Sunday and turned down a host of kickable penalties in the first-half © Getty Images

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has rung the changes for Saturday's Tri-Nations opener against South Africa following their 32-23 defeat to Samoa on Sunday.

Deans has opted to bring back in the Reds stars who excelled at the close of the Super Rugby season but their inclusion comes at the expense of 92-Test cap Matt Giteau. Giteau's omission from the 22 is the major casualty from Sunday's embarrassing loss to Samoa after coach Robbie Deans wielded the axe at Tuesday's team announcement.

Brumbies utility Pat McCabe has been retained at inside-centre and is joined by star half-backs Will Genia and Quade Cooper, while full-back Kurtley Beale and wing James O'Connor also return to bolster the backline. There are three changes to the forward pack, with Reds locks James Horwill and Rob Simmons forcing Nathan Sharpe to the bench, while openside flanker David Pocock returns from a foot injury.

Quizzed on his decision to axe Giteau, Deans, who has opted for a five-two split of forwards and backs on the bench, said the ability of both Beale and O'Connor to cover the playmaking role meant the veteran's services were not required. "We've got good versatility in our backline, we believe we've got what we need there so we've opted to carry a little bit more up front," Deans said.

"We've obviously gone for a combination that we think will be good for us and we believe we have the capability within the existing group to cover all of those potential permutations around 10 and 12."

Asked if Giteau still has a role to play in the side for the remainder of the Tri-Nations campaign and looking ahead to the World Cup in September-October, a coy Deans replied: "Well Gits is part of the (Tri-Nations) squad so he has a big part to play. We prepare as one and next week's another week.

"You can look at anyone and make assumptions but like I've said many times, we're presuming nothing going forward. Matt will obviously want a role going forward, he has a role going forward, we just don't know what that will entail just yet in terms of playing."

Meanwhile, the coach confirmed prop Benn Robinson has opted against having the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee repaired in a desperate bid to return in time for the World Cup. "Robbo isn't going to proceed with his operation, his knee is remarkably stable for an ACL he's opted to give it a go and attempt to play without an ACL," Deans said. "A typical ACL injury involves medial ligament damage as well, his didn't and he's got good stability.

"There's a little bit of laxity as a result of the fact he doesn't have an ACL ligament, but it's not significant, it's even consistent with some (people) post-operation. To put it in perspective, it is a low percentage success rate if we base it on history, so I wouldn't be jumping through hoops just yet, but he's opted to give it a go.

"I understand there's one player who's played a Test match without an ACL, but he played in the midfield and it wasn't a great experience. But the midfield's distinct from up front, I mean Robbo might just have to park his sidestep for a while."

Australia: Kurtley Beale; James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, James Horwill, Rocky Elsom, David Pocock, Ben McCalman.

Replacements: Saia Fainga'a, Pek Cowan, Nathan Sharpe, Matt Hodgson, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Anthony Fainga'a.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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