Injuries still hamper Aussies

Robbie Deans is expected to make a number of forced and unforced changes to his team to face the Springboks.

Australia will name their team on Tuesday, and the most serious injury concerns are in the pack. Flanker Rocky Elsom (ankle) and lock Nathan Sharpe (shoulder) are both in a battle against time to be fit, while influential centre Berrick Barnes is expected to start despite suffering from concussion as well as a neck injury. Fullback James O’Connor was cleared of a leg ailment.

Even if the pair of forwards are deemed fit, Deans is expected to make other changes. Scrumhalf Luke Burgess and prop Al Baxter are set to be dropped for Will Genia and Ben Alexander.

The Reds No 9 believes he can make the step-up to start a Test and would relish the challenge against Fourie du Preez.

‘I definitely feel comfortable,’ said Genia. ‘It’s not so much being nervous about playing, it’s just excited about the challenge of playing Test rugby for Australia.

‘I’d like a bit more game time. I wouldn’t say I’m happy with what I’m given, but whatever I’m given I try to make the most of.’

No 8 Richard Brown is also feeling the pressure after his second sin-binning in as many matches could cost him his place, although the return of Wycliff Palu is also dependant on the fitness of Elsom.

‘There could be [players dropped] and if there are, I will just have to cop that on the chin,’ said Brown. ‘If I didn’t get a yellow card, we may have won. I put a lot of blame on myself. But it was never my intention to put him on his head or hurt him.’