SYDNEY // Wallaby number eight Wycliff Palu is on course to make his international comeback ahead of schedule in the Tri-Nations series opener against New Zealand on Aug 18. Palu missed Australia's first four matches of the international season with a hand injury but is available for selection after satisfying coach Robbie Deans that he was ready. "We will be considering Cliffy in our selection decisions, he is essentially good to go," Deans said today.
"He's excited about being back out there, he's been frustrated having to watch, so he comes back into the mix which is good." Injured flanker Rocky Elsom is also making steady progress but is highly unlikely to be named next week on the team to play New Zealand. The Australians have made a strong start to the new season, posting comfortable wins over the Barbarians, Italy and France, but captain Stirling Mortlock said they knew they had to improve to beat the All Blacks.
"This is a Tri-Nations campaign, everything goes up a notch and my anticipation is that first encounter in Auckland will be a very physical and brutal affair," Mortlock said. "If we can keep on making strides forward at set-piece time and the cohesiveness of the backline is improving as well, our kicking game has been improving, things are looking good." * Reuters