x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

US wary as Wallabies look to get energy back

Will Genia to captain a revamped side as they prepare for American physicality and 'ferocity'.

Australia will bid to get their World Cup campaign back on course today, but anticipate fierce resistance from the United States in the Pool C encounter in Wellington.

The Wallabies are still reeling from last week's 15-6 loss to Ireland in Auckland and will not underestimate the US in the New Zealand capital's Wellington Regional Stadium.

"We're expecting the same physicality and ferocity that they played Russia and Ireland with," Ben Alexander, the Australia prop, said. "They gave Ireland a good test in the wet. We're expecting a big game from them."

Australia have made seven changes, five of which come in the pack.

James Slipper has been called up to start at loose-head prop, Rob Simmons and Nathan Sharpe at second row, Ben McCalman at flanker and Wycliff Palu at No 8.

Drew Mitchell replaces James O'Connor on the wing, with Rob Horne in for Pat McCabe at inside centre.

The omission of James Horwill, the captain, means Will Genia is to lead the side for the first time, the scrum-half becoming the 78th Wallabies captain.

There is still no return for the injured flanker David Pocock, while Scott Higginbotham was also not considered due to injury.

Anthony Fainga'a keeps his place at outside centre.

"Obviously coming off the back of a loss we needed to get that energy back in the team," Fainga'a said. "That's something we want to bring tomorrow night [tonight] and moving forward."

The US lost 22-10 to Ireland before bouncing back to beat Russia 13-6, and Eddie O'Sullivan, the head coach, is expecting a strong response following Australia's loss to his Irish compatriots.

The US coach said: "I think any team that comes off a defeat, the next time out they always want to make a statement.

"I have no doubt that will be the intent of Australia against us: to show that they are back on track."

The American fly-half Nese Malifa also threw the gauntlet to Quade Cooper, who had a poor game last week. "He's a world-class player. He will take a lot to (defend against) because he loves to have the ball in hand and run rather than kick, so we will be looking for the behind-the-back passes and the no-lookers.

"He is a very creative player. Watching him (is great), but I wouldn't want to learn from him.

"The 50-50s he throws is not a very good way to learn. He likes those passes. He is a high-risk, high-reward player."