Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Beale set to start for Wallabies

Kurtley Beale, second left, will be looking to make amends for his missed penalties in the first Test
Kurtley Beale, second left, will be looking to make amends for his missed penalties in the first Test

Once again all eyes will be on the backline when Australia coach Robbie Deans names his team for the second Test against the British and Irish Lions on Thursday morning.

The identity of their fly-half will be the biggest talking point with Kurtley Beale a possibility to start ahead of James O'Connor.

By Deans' admission, O'Connor endured a "difficult" match in the 23-21 defeat in the first Test at the Suncorp Stadium, although he was hardly helped by the succession of injuries that decimated the Wallabies' threequarters.

Whatever Deans decides at 10, Beale will start the match following his 41-minute substitute appearance in Brisbane with full-back the likely option after Berrick Barnes was ruled out of the showdown at the Etihad Stadium through concussion.

Centres Adam Ashley-Cooper and Christian Leali'ifano have been recovering from a shoulder injury and concussion respectively but are expected to be passed fit, enabling Australia to field their first choice midfield.

With Digby Ioane out for the remainder of the series because of a shoulder problem, Joe Tomane is favourite to join rugby league sensation Israel Folau on the wings.

Captain James Horwill escaped punishment for stamping on Alun-Wyn Jones last weekend, so the only area of debate in the pack is whether 110-Test veteran George Smith should be involved.

The 32-year-old breakdown specialist has spent the last five weeks sidelined by a knee injury and while he is unlikely to break up the back row of Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper and Wycliff Palu, he could displace Liam Gill from the bench.

Mowen was one of several Wallabies who covered himself in glory, despite the outcome of an epic match that is being talked of as one of the great Lions Tests.

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