Australia consider changes for Wales game

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The Independent Online

Australia coach Robbie Deans is set to make changes for the Wallabies' World Cup bronze medal match against Wales at Eden Park on Friday.

Both sides are on the rebound from painful semi-final defeats, Australia having lost 20-6 to New Zealand and Wales being edged out 9-8 by France.

"It is very likely there will be change, quite simply off the back of the burden that the core group have had," Deans said.

"There are some pretty battered bodies."

Whatever switches Deans decides to make, though, Wallabies skipper James Horwill has no doubt motivation will not be an issue in the Australian camp.

Horwill said: "I think it's a good thing we are playing so soon (after the semi-final), because of the fact that you cannot sit and dwell on these sort of things.

"The fact that we, in four days' time, pull on the jersey and finish this tournament off on a positive note is the thing that's going to drive us.

"We want to finish this tournament on the right note, and that will be by finishing third."

Deans, meanwhile, moved to deflect criticism from fly-half Quade Cooper, who sent his kick-off in yesterday's semi-final straight into touch and was then booed at every opportunity by All Blacks fans.

"The key thing for Quade is moving on," added Deans, of his New Zealand-born playmaker.

"There are two ways he can go. You can absorb it, accept it, for what it is, but maintain your focus on the things that are important and keep going.

"Or you can let it get the better of you and turn your toes up. I would like to think he won't be doing the latter.

"I've been very impressed, actually, with the way he has carried himself because clearly a lot of the dialogue has been unwarranted.

"It's easy for people who really have no knowledge of the man to take a pot-shot. I think the way he's carried himself has been impressive under the circumstances.

"I don't think it affected his performances at all, to be honest.

"The whole playing group has been under pressure, the whole playing group has made errors, but it's just the fact that his errors are attributed to a sideshow."

New Zealander Deans believes the All Blacks will land the Webb Ellis Trophy and be crowned world champions after next Sunday's final.

It would be the first time they have conquered planet rugby since the inaugural World Cup 24 years ago - when they beat France in the final.

"What the All Blacks have is a group who have suffered on many occasions," Deans said.

"The core of their group, the nucleus of their group, this is their third (World Cup) attempt and they've got that burning desire, that fire in the belly for that reason.

"And they've also got that mental resilience. We don't have that as yet, to the same extent.

"I can't see anyone stopping the All Blacks now."