Aussie wrap (Mon) brings you the latest news from Australia’s year end tour.

Deans ponders backline reshuffle

Australia coach Robbie Deans is contemplating giving fringe backline players a run against Italy on Saturday.

Italy are the weakest of the Wallabies’ tour opponents and the Test could provide Deans with the opportunity to have a look at his backline options. Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper and utility-back Berrick Barnes will battle for the pivot berth, Waratahs winger Lachie Turner, NSW utility-back Timana Tahu, Reds winger Digby Ioane and Western Force utility back James O’Connor. is also in contention for the five-eighth position.

Deans is, however, likely to field his strongest pack as he identified this as a strength of the Italians. “They’re a side that we definitely respect,” said Deans. “They’ve got one of the best packs in Six Nations. And Test rugby starts there, so we’ve got to make a plan.”

Mortlock’s backing the new boys

Australia captain Stirling Mortlock believes their youngsters will start to make a telling impact soon.

The Wallabies are set to give all 34 members of their touring squad game time and are confident that the newcomers and rookies have the aptitude to succeed.

“It’s outstanding to be a part of this team and just to see how the young guys come in and just blossom and back themselves,” Mortlock said. “That’s really exciting from my perspective and likewise a lot of the guys who have been around for a while.

“The environment is really positive and conducive to guys expressing themselves. You still saw that in our game against the All Blacks, but what we’ve got to get better at is understanding how to close out a game, how to deny opposition chances.

“I think we’re getting there. When you’ve got a lot of younger guys, you’re starting to grow as a team. But I think we’re not far away.”

More to follow …