Knuckles finetunes Wallabies

Ben Tune is back in the Wallabies mix, but there is no change to the run-on XV that destroyed Ireland in Perth.

The Wallabies play the All Blacks in the Vodacom Tri Nations opener in Christchurch and Australian coach John Connolly has kept with the side that won him test matches against Ireland and England (twice).

Clyde Rathbone is injured and that has allowed a recall for veteran Tune. Matt Giteau is also back from injury, but he can’t crack the starting XV and will get a run as one of the backline substitutes. Mat Rogers plays again at inside centre.

Tune last played for Australia on the 2002 tour of Argentina before missing almost two full seasons through injury.

“He (Tune) is a great player and he’s worked extremely hard to earn this opportunity to play test football again,” said Connolly. “He will do a fine job for us on Saturday night when he gets his opportunity from the bench.”

Connolly said the Wallabies had plenty of improvement in them after an unbeaten start to their season.

“We’ve had three good wins and we’re happy with our progress so far but there is still a lot of improvement in this team,” he said. “Playing against New Zealand is a massive step up from what we’ve had so far and we certainly acknowledge that we are going to have to lift another gear for them this Saturday night. New Zealand are the best team in the world and they’ve got class all over the field so we know what to expect from them.”

AUSTRALIA: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Mat Rogers, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 George Gregan (c), 8 Rocky Elsom, 7 George Smith, 6 Mark Chisholm, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Nathan Sharpe, 3 Guy Shepherdsen, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Greg Holmes. Reserves: 16 Jeremy Paul, 17 Al Baxter, 18 Scott Fava, 19 Phil Waugh, 20 Sam Cordingley, 21 Matt Giteau, 22 Ben Tune.

Australia ‘A’ to play Fiji in Adelaide and Melbourne has also been announced.

The squad is: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Richard Brown, Al Campbell, Mitchell Chapman, David Croft, Matt Dunning, Gene Fairbanks, Nic Henderson, Josh Holmes, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Drew Mitchell, Stephen Moore, Sam Norton-Knight, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, John Roe, Cameron Shepherd, Scott Staniforth, Morgan Turinui, Josh Valentine, Adam Wallace-Harrison.