Sharpe Cut From Wallabies Squad For Bledisloe Opener
Nathan Sharpe’s chances of playing at a third rugby World Cup have nosedived after the veteran lock was cut from the Wallabies squad that will take on New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup opener on the weekend.
The 95 test veteran now faces an uphill battle if he is going to be in the plane to the World Cup, after Deans opted to select Dan Vickerman, James Horwill, Rob Simmons and Sitaleki Timani as the specialist locks in the 24 man touring party that will travel to Auckland to take on the All Blacks.
It is a bitter blow for Sharpe, who actually took over the reins as captain when he was bought onto the field as a substitute in the Wallabies last match against South Africa.
As expected Nick Phipps has also been dropped from the squad and has been replaced by Waratahs scrum half Luke Burgess, who missed the opening part of the Wallabies spring campaign with a broken finger. Winger Lachie Turner has also been recalled to the squad after some impressive displays in club rugby.
Matt Giteau is another who is looking increasingly unlikely to be on the plane to New Zealand for the World Cup after he was again left out of the Wallabies squad. His case will not be helped by the fact that Berrick Barnes has declared himself available for test selection following on from some strong performances in club rugby.
The Wallabies will fly out to New Zealand later in the week in preparations for the match against the Kiwis at Eden Park, a ground the Wallabies have not won at since 1986. It has also been 11 years since the Aussies won a test at any New Zealand stadium, however Wallabies coaching co-ordinator David Nucifora said the fact that previous Wallabies teams had struggled at Eden Park was irrelevant.
“For this young side, the talk of hoodoos is not really relevant to them. It’s an advantage to have the clear heads they do. We don’t talk about where we have and haven’t won. It’s not meaningful to them,” Nucifora said.
“It doesn’t matter that we are playing at Eden Park. I’ve always called it a good place to play footy. It’s got a great surface even with a bit of water on it. It’s good to play open rugby on.
“It’s an all-important test for us. If we can get one over them in Auckland, a Bledisloe Cup decider in Brisbane would be massive.”
The Wallabies will meet an All Blacks side fresh off a 40-7 win over a depleted Springboks line up. However Nucifora said that he did not see anything new in the Kiwi’s game style.
“There weren’t too many surprises. The All Blacks were efficient, they had good intensity, the set piece was good, the breakdown was good and the counter-attack off turnovers was pretty accurate.” Nucifora said.
Wallabies Squad to Play New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday August 6 (Positions to be confirmed later in the week)
Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Luke Burgess, Quade Cooper, Pek Cowan, Rocky Elsom, Anthony Fainga’a, Saia Fainga’a, Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Sekope Kepu, Pat McCabe, Ben McCalman, Stephen Moore, James O’Connor, David Pocock, Rob Simmons, Sitaleki Timani, Lachie Turner, Dan Vickerman.