No8 set for wing berth

Australia head coach Robbie Deans has sprung a major surprise by naming No8 Radike Samo on the wing for Saturday's World Cup clash with Russia. [more]

No8 set for wing berth

Australia head coach Robbie Deans has sprung a major surprise by naming No8 Radike Samo on the wing for Saturday’s World Cup clash with Russia.

Samo ended the 67-5 thrashing of the United States in the same position after the Wallabies suffered a host of injuries in Wellington.

Deans saw three midfield players and his first-choice full back pick up knocks in that match, with Rob Horne suffering a fractured cheekbone, Pat McCabe a dislocated shoulder, Anthony Faingaa concussion and Kurtley Beale a hamstring strain.

All four should be fit enough to play some part in the knockout stages, leaving Deans to decide against calling up replacements.

And with Queensland Reds wideman Digby Ioane still not fully fit after dislocating a thumb in the opening win over Italy and fellow wing option Adam Ashley-Cooper being required in the centre, Deans had limited options for the final pool encounter.

Samo, who made his first Test start in seven seasons when he was recalled to the side earlier this year, hasn’t played on the wing for close to a decade. The 35-year-old’s previous experience out wide came with the Canberra Vikings way back in 1999 and an occasional stint there for the Brumbies a year later before a final start with the Vikings in 2002.

One of the stars of the Reds’ recent Super 15 winning campaign, Samo will at least head into the Russian game with confidence having scored a stunning 60-metre try in the Tri Nations win against the All Blacks and having touched down from that position against the US.

"I'd rather stick in the forwards and do what I normally do in the forwards but I'll enjoy it," said the 117kg Samo.

"I enjoyed my time there but it's been a while. It's not like back in the days when I used to be quick!"

Elsewhere in the Australian squad, only fly-half Quade Cooper and wing Drew Mitchell remain from the back division that started last time out. Berrick Barnes will play at inside centre, while James O’Connor switches to full back and Luke Burgess starts at scrum-half.

There is some much-needed good news in the forward pack, however, as star openside David Pocock returns after missing the loss to Ireland and the win over the States with a back injury.

Skipper James Horwill and blindside Scott Higginbotham are also both available after minor injuries forced them to sit out last weekend’s fixture.

A lack of numbers has forced Deans to name three scrum-halves and three hookers in his matchday 22, though, after back rower Wycliff Palu headed home with a hamstring injury earlier in the week.

Australia (vs Russia, Nelson, Saturday, 3.30am BST)

James O'Connor; Radike Samo, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Luke Burgess, James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, James Horwill (captain), Nathan Sharpe, Scott Higginbotham, David Pocock, Ben McCalman

Replacements: Tatafu Polota Nau, Saia Fainga'a, Salesi Ma'afu, Rob Simmons, Rocky Elsom, Will Genia, Nick Phipps

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