Australia and New Zealand make changes for Tri-Nations clash

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The Independent Online

Australia and New Zealand both made two changes to winning lineups for Saturday's Tri-Nations rugby test, with the Wallabies reinstating Matt Giteau at flyhalf in place of the suspended Quade Cooper.

With Giteau moving in one spot, Berrick Barnes won a recall to the Australian starting lineup at inside center in the absence of Cooper, who received a two-match suspension for a dangerous tackle in last weekend's 30-13 win over South Africa.

In the only other change to the Wallabies' starting lineup, Stephen Moore was named at hooker ahead of Saia Faingaa, who returns to the reserves bench.

The All Blacks also made two changes to their run-on team, naming a fit Joe Rokocoko on the left wing in place of Rene Ranger and Jimmy Cowan at scrumhalf ahead of Piri Weepu.

Rokocoko missed the second of New Zealand's two test wins over Tri-Nations champions South Africa with a hamstring injury but has won back his place in a starting XV boasting more than 700 test caps. He will make his 64th test appearance, moving ahead of John Kirwan and Jonah Lomu as the All Blacks' most-capped winger.

Weepu was a key figure in New Zealand's 31-17 win over the Springboks in Wellington — which followed its 32-12 win in Auckland — but made way for Cowan after arriving late in Melbourne to be with his partner for the birth of his their child. He will start on the bench while backrower Victor Vito also joins the reserves.

Prop Tony Woodcock will play his 66th test on Saturday, joining Greg Somerville as the most-capped All Blacks prop. The All Blacks, led by captain Richie McCaw and fullback Mils Muliaina who will both play their 86th tests, have put together a team of extraordinary experience.

"We will need all our experience up against what is a very good Wallabies side," All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said.

"We have had a good start to the Tri-Nations with the two wins over South Africa but there is no room for complacency. We are playing our oldest rivals for one of our most prized trophies, the Bledisloe Cup, and both sides will come out firing."

Barnes was included in Australia's starting lineup Tuesday at inside center. He and Giteau will be combining at 10 and 12 for the first time this year but have played in tandem in those positions in 15 of Australia's last 33 tests dating to the 2008 match against Ireland at Melbourne, which was coach Robbie Deans' first in charge of the Wallabies.

Barnes is only making his second appearance in the starting lineup this season, after starting at inside center in the 27-17 win over England at Perth last month.

Moore was preferred to Faingaa after coming off the bench in the second half of the win over South Africa to make his 47th test appearance, and his first since recovering from a broken jaw.

In a slight boost for Faingaa, his twin brother Anthony was included on the reserves bench as an inside back after Barnes was elevated to the starting XV.

Matt Hodgson was also included on the bench at the expense of Ben McCalman. Hodgson was a late withdrawal from the Springboks match due to a groin strain.

Nathan Sharpe will equal the record of World Cup-winning captain John Eales for most caps earned by a Wallabies lock when he makes his 84th test appearance.

New Zealand leads the competition with 10 points from its two bonus-point wins at home and is six clear of Australia. The Melbourne match will be New Zealand's first on the road this season.

Australia: Adam Ashley Cooper, James O'Connor, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Will Genia; Richard Brown, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (captain), Nathan Sharpe, Dean Mumm, Salesi Maafu, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Saia Faingaa, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Matt Hodgson, Luke Burgess, Anthony Faingaa, Kurtley Beale.

New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Joe Rokocoko, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Tom Donnelly, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Sam Whitelock, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg.