Big guns return to front French

Australia have named their strongest possible starting line-up for their one-off Test against France this weekend.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has made a total of nine changes to the side that beat Italy in Melbourne at the weekend.

Skipper Stirling Mortlock, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Richard Brown, Nathan Sharpe, Stephen Moore, Al Baxter and Benn Robinson all return to the starting line-up.

Ashley-Cooper has won the battle to wear the No 15 jersey ahead of teenage sensation James O’Connor who drops to the bench after starting both Tests against Italy.

Veteran winger Lote Tuqiri has still been unable to make the side, with Peter Hynes replaced by Mitchell on the left wing.

Two openside flankers have been chosen on the bench in the form of Phil Waugh and David Pocock, while in-form centre Ryan Cross has also been named on the bench.

‘This is the combination we feel will serve us best this weekend,’ said Deans. ‘We got a lot out of last week’s game in Melbourne and certainly weren’t disappointed with the effort of any of the players involved.

‘That outing has allowed us to broaden our depth in terms of exposing other players to Test match conditions.

‘We will see the benefits of that moving forward.’

Australia – 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Richard Brown, 7 George Smith, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Sub: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Phil Waugh, 19 David Pocock, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Ryan Cross, 22 James O’Connor.