Mortlock boost for Wallabies

Stirling Mortlock will assume the role of captaincy when he returns to an Aussie outfit that sees five changes.

The Brumbies outside centre comes into this game against Italy at the expense of Cameron Shepherd, as Lote Tuqiri vacates the 13 channel and shifts out to the wing.

The pack is significantly different to the one that fronted the Welsh last week in Cardiff. Phil Waugh is rested, which gives George Smith a chance at openside flank, while Mark Chisholm replaces the injured Dan Vickerman. The front row sees Guy Shepherdson and Brendan Cannon displacing Rodney Blake and Tai McIsaac.

The fitness of Stephen Larkham may still force a late change, as the the World-Cup winning Aussie sustained a shoulder injury over the weekend. If Larkham’s condition fails to improve in the next 24 hours, Tuqiri will move back to No 13, allowing either one of Shepherd or Drew Mitchell to play on the wing.

Australia: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Steven Larkham, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Mat Rogers, 9 Matt Giteau, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 George Smith, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Brendan Cannon, 1 Al Baxter.
Replacements: TBC