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Deans makes changes

The absence through suspension of James O'Connor has forced Australia coach Robbie Deans to reshuffle his backline ahead of Saturday's Tri-Nations decider against New Zealand in Brisbane.

Queensland Reds centre Anthony Fainga'a has been rewarded for his strong performance off the bench in Australia's 14-9 win over South Africa 10 days ago with a promotion to the starting line-up.

Fainga'a has been selected at outside centre, with the versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper shifted to the right wing to cover O'Connor's absence. O'Connor was handed a one-Test ban on Monday for failing to attend last Thursday's World Cup squad announcement.

Deans has made a further two changes to his run-on side, with veteran forwards Dan Vickerman and Radike Samo elevated to the starting pack.

Vickerman will partner new Wallabies skipper James Horwill in the second row after replacing Nathan Sharpe, who will captain the Australian Barbarians against Canada on the Gold Coast on Friday night.

The South African-born Vickerman has not started a Test match since the 2007 World Cup quarter-final defeat against England.

Samo's first Test start in seven years comes at the expense of incumbent number eight Scott Higginbotham, who drops back to the bench.

The final position among the run-on reserves has been left vacant, with the 22nd player to be confirmed out of the Barbarians squad once that fixture has been concluded.

Australia team: Kurtley Beale; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Anthony Fainga'a, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dan Vickerman, James Horwill (captain), Rocky Elsom, David Pocock, Radike Samo.

Reserves: Saia Faingaa, Salesi Ma'afu, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, AN Other.


From Belfast Telegraph