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Mitchell survives Wallabies axe

Australia wing Drew Mitchell has been spared the axe but Berrick Barnes and Stephen Moore have both been dumped to the bench ahead of Saturday's vital Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand in Christchurch.

Mitchell, who was controversially sent off in the 49-28 loss to the All Blacks in Melbourne, will start on the wing in a new-look Wallabies backline.

Twins Saia and Anthony Faingaa will start a Test match together for the first time at hooker and inside centre respectively, while a season-ending elbow injury to Rob Horne sees Kurtley Beale start at full-back with the versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper shifting to outside centre.

Ashley-Cooper has featured at centre on four occasions in his 42 previous Test appearances for the Wallabies including three matches during last year's Tri-Nations campaign.

His most recent outing in the position for Australia was during last year's Test against the All Blacks in Wellington.

Barnes and Moore have been named on the bench alongside Western Force winger Cameron Shepherd, who makes his return to the Test arena after last having appeared against France at Brisbane in 2008.

Shepherd has played nine previous Tests for Australia.

Australia team to play New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday:

K Beale; J O'Connor, A Ashley-Cooper, A Faingaa, D Mitchell; M Giteau, W Genia; B Robinson, S Faingaa, S Ma'afu, D Mumm, N Sharpe, R Elsom (captain), D Pocock, R Brown.

Replacements: S Moore, J Slipper, R Simmons, M Hodgson, L Burgess, B Barnes, C Shepherd.


From Belfast Telegraph