Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Players must perform - Alexander

Ben Alexander

The Australians who take to the field against New Zealand this weekend will be playing for their World Cup spots and not just the Tri-Nations trophy, according to tighthead Ben Alexander.

Heading into their last international fixture before the World Cup, there are many among the Australians, and the forwards especially, who are still playing to cement their places in the pecking order.

"The moment that you think your spot is assured is the moment you'll start slipping backwards and you'll get replaced," said Alexander.

"That was the depth that Robbie's (Deans, coach) looked to build over the last few years, that initially probably wasn't there, five or so years ago. And it's not just the front row, it's across the whole paddock.

"If you don't perform on Saturday, you'll be replaced quick-sticks, because we have the depth and we have the players to replace you."

Veteran lock Nathan Sharpe and number eight Scott Higginbotham were the two unforced changes in the Wallabies line-up, and their replacements, Dan Vickerman and Radike Samo, indicate the brand of physical rugby that Australian are looking to bring to the contest.

Hard-hitting Anthony Fainga'a comes in to add some starch to the back-line with James O'Connor serving a one-match ban, and the Australians are all promising improved aggression after being caught short last time out against New Zealand.

"Everyone's really amped for this week. When you've got to play the All Blacks, you've got to bring your physical game," added Alexander.

"We were just beaten in those early physical exchanges last time when we played them at Eden Park, so we're really making sure that we're primed and we're ready to go, and we're going to be clinical and effective and brutal in that area."