Despite limited rugby this year, Kurtley Beale earns a starting berth against the Lions. Image courtesy of au.eurosport.com
Australia finds itself in the same position it did twelve years ago; down 1-0 in a series against the British and Irish Lions , and underdogs heading in to the second Test. Whether Robbie Deans’ team can repeat the effort of that star-studded 2001 Wallaby side remains to be seen, but given the casualty ward from last Saturday night’s two-point loss at Suncorp Stadium, the coach has remarkably been able to name a starting line-up with minimal disruption.
A couple of years ago Joe Tomane was a run-of-the-mill young first grader in the NRL with Melbourne and the Gold Coast. On Saturday night he steps out on to Etihad Stadium for by far the biggest match of his career as a replacement on the wing for the sidelined Digby Ioane.
After lasting around a minute in Brisbane, playmaker Christian Leali’ifano retains his position. He’ll be partnered in the centres by Adam Ashley-Cooper who has responded well to treatment for a shoulder injury this week, but Pat McCabe is out for the rest of the year after sustaining a serious neck injury. Kick-happy fullback Berrick Barnes will miss the match due to a head knock, with the more dynamic Kurtley Beale taking over the No. 15 jersey after injecting some creativity in to Australia’s attack in the latter stages of last week’s Test. Hopefully his head is in a good space after slipping when trying to kick the game-winning penalty goal in the final seconds.
History is against the Lions; they haven’t won a series since 1997 when they triumphed 2-1 in South Africa. Veteran lock Paul O’Connell has been ruled out of the rest of the series with a fractured forearm, while prop Alex Corbisiero will miss the match with a calf injury. They’ve been replaced by Geoff Parling and Mako Vunipola , respectively.
Ireland winger Tommy Bowe has jumped straight in to the starting XV after overcoming a broken hand. He replaces Wales flyer Alex Cuthbert who moves to the bench. In a surprising move, England half-back Ben Youngs will start ahead of Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips, while Dan Lydiate comes in at blindside flanker at the expense of Tom Croft who is among the eight substitutes. Centre James Roberts remains on the outer with his hamstring injury, while Manu Tuilagi couldn’t force his way in to the squad despite returning in the 35-0 win over the Melbourne Rebels midweek.
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