x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Palu recalled by Australia for final Bledisloe Cup match

The number eight will return to the Australian side for the first time since suffering nerve damage against Wales in June.

Australia head coach Robbie Deans
Australia head coach Robbie Deans

Wycliff Palu will make his return from a shoulder injury for Australia when they face New Zealand in their third and final Bledisloe Cup encounter in Brisbane on Saturday.

Number eight Palu, who has not played for Australia since the June internationals against Wales when he suffered an injury to nerves in his shoulder, was named on Tuesday to start against New Zealand.

Utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper has also been recalled after he was knocked unconscious in Australia's Rugby Championship clash with South Africa last month.

"Adam has been cleared after the head knock he suffered in Pretoria," Australia coach Robbie Deans said.

"He brings with him all-round skill but also a lot of voice in terms of on-field communication, which will be important with a lot of younger players around him."

Winger Drew Mitchell was named on the replacements' bench after recovering from an ankle injury he sustained against New Zealand at Eden Park in August.

Reserve hooker Saia Fainga'a was forced to withdraw on Tuesday after breaking his hand in training and was replaced on the bench by James Hanson.

The All Blacks won that game to retain the Bledisloe Cup and are seeking their 17th successive test victory which would equal the record for top tier rugby nations.

Deans's team were the last side to beat New Zealand, at Lang Park, less than two weeks before the start of last year's World Cup.

"The All Blacks are the benchmark and proved it again through the Rugby Championship," Deans said of the world champions' run.

"They are a step up from where we've been, but the guys have shown a lot of resilience over the last two months, and they're excited about the opportunity ahead of them on the weekend."

Team: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson

Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 James Slipper, 18 Kane Douglas, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Drew Mitchell


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