Rugby World Cup: Kurtley Beale's chance to show what semifinal lacked

By Dylan Cleaver

Kurtley Beale. Photo / Getty Images
Kurtley Beale. Photo / Getty Images

Quade Cooper gets a shot at redemption, Kurtley Beale gets an opportunity to show what the semifinal was missing and lock Nathan Sharpe gets his 100th cap.

Wallaby coach Robbie Deans has made eight changes to his starting lineup, some of them forced, as his team prepare to face Wales in the kissing-your-sister playoff.

To help lift for what could be seen as the game no team wants to play, Jonah Lomu was brought in for a pep talk.

His appearance obviously had the desired effect, with several Wallabies, including the beleaguered Cooper, taking to the Twitter verse to express their gratitude.

"Big thanks to jonah for giving his time & having a chat. Theres no better person to talk to about life, rugby & expectation," Cooper wrote.

David Pocock posted a photo of himself and James O'Connor with the World Cup great, with the flanker writing: "Great to meet the legendary #JonahLomu.

What a good bloke too."

Compared with Lomu's ongoing health battles, the Wallabies' trials are minor, but injuries and fatigue have pushed Deans towards making several changes.

Berrick Barnes will start at second five-eighths, while Scott Higginbotham gets a start at blindside flanker ahead of Rocky Elsom. The front row has been reworked, with Tatafu Polota-Nau replacing Stephen Moore at hooker, James Slipper comes off the bench to start at loosehead prop and Salesi Ma'afu at tighthead.

Ben McCalman gets a start at No 8 ahead of Radike Samo.

Anthony Faingaa has been dropped to the bench to accommodate Adam Ashley-Cooper, who has moved back to centre from the fullback role he played against New Zealand in their 20-6 loss.

Beale's return will give spectators an opportunity to see the thrust Australia was missing from the back during their disappointing semifinal showing.

With the possible exception of McCabe for Barnes, this is the backline Deans probably imagined when he drew up his World Cup masterplan.

He obviously would have been expecting more from Cooper, who was ordinary in both knockout games. Deans said on Monday that he had been impressed by the way Cooper had carried himself in the face of public opprobrium, but with the pressure off, this might be the opportunity for him to show off his vast array of skills.

The 33-year-old Sharpe becomes the fifth Australia to win 100 test caps, behind George Gregan (139), George Smith (110), Stephen Larkham (102) and David Campese (101).

He becomes the 21st player to gain 100 test caps.

Australia v Wales
Eden Park, Friday, 9pm

Kurtley Beale
J. O'Connor
A. Ashley-Cooper
Berrick Barnes
Digby Ioane
Quade Cooper
Will Genia
Ben McCalman
David Pocock
S. Higginbotham
Nathan Sharpe
J. Horwill (c)
Salesi Ma'afu
T. Polota Nau
James Slipper

Saia Fainga'a, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, Radike Samo, Luke Burgess, Anthony Fainga'a, Rob Horne.

- NZ Herald

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