Wed, Nov 12, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Aussies prepare for pumped up New Zealand squad


Australian coach Eddie Jones retained the same starting lineup that struggled against Scotland for Saturday's World Cup semifinal against New Zealand.

Jones ignored calls for changes after an unconvincing 33-16 quarterfinal win over the Scots. He also gambled on the fitness of flanker George Smith, who left the field in the quarterfinal with an injured shoulder.

Backline utility Matt Giteau didn't recover from an injured ankle and his place on the replacements went to center Nathan Grey. Vice-captain David Giffin was bracketed on the bench with lock Dan Vickerman, pending a fitness test, while quarterfinal replacement Matt Cockbain was left out of the 22.

"We were pleased with Matt's efforts in the second half against Scotland, but in the end we believe we have the right lineout for New Zealand," Jones said.

Rugby league converts Mat Rogers and winger Wendell Sailor held their spots despite heavy criticism of their performances, while Lote Tuqiri did enough against Scotland to keep veteran winger Joe Roff out of the team again.

Jones said he'd considered changes to the backline, but ruled them out due to the different dynamic of playing New Zealand.

"We had a look at fullback where we have an outstanding player available in Chris Latham, but decided Matty is the best option for this game," Jones said. "We also had a look at the wing combination and in the end we feel that Lote and Wendell on the right wing and Roffy off the bench will suit us best for this game."

Jones defended Sailor against the criticism he has received this tournament, saying he was ideal for the All Blacks match.

"Wendell has been heavily criticized but I think a lot of it is unfair and we feel he can do the job against Joe Rokocoko. He's the sort of guy that can trouble the All Blacks," Jones said.

Giffin was a late withdrawal from the Scotland match with a leg problem and will have to prove his fitness before the weekend.

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