Deans: Injury crisis has forced me to be ‘creative’

AUSTRALIA coach Robbie Deans admits the Wallabies’ injury crisis has forced him to be “creative” in his team selection for tomorrow’s World Cup clash with Russia (3.30am Irish time).

Back row Radike Samo has been named on the right wing for their final Pool C match, the position where he finished the 67-5 victory over the United States.

The 35-year-old becomes the first player to start as a forward and a back in the same World Cup. A lengthy injury list means that Deans has been forced to pick all three of the squad’s hookers and all three scrum-halves in the matchday 22.

“We’ve had to be a bit creative, but it’s never been about the number on their back,” said Deans.

Australia will soon be reinforced by the return from injury of full-back Kurtley Beale, winger Digby Ioane and midfielders Rob Horne and Pat McCabe.

“We’ve got four backs coming back to us next week so it shouldn’t be an issue going forward, unless we have a train smash this weekend,” said Deans.

The Wallabies will book their place in the quarter-finals with victory over Russia, though they will only progress as group runners-up if Ireland beat Italy on Sunday.

Even with their unusual team selection, they should still amass a large score against the whipping boys of Pool C.

“Russia are on a plane within 24 hours of the match finishing so under that circumstance they’ll bring everything,” said Deans.

“They’re proud men, they’re physical, strong, they have got some able backs and they have played some good rugby.”

AUSTRALIA (Pool C v Russia, Christchurch, 3.30am): J O’Connor (Western Force), R Samo (Queensland Reds), S Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies), B Barnes (NSW Waratahs), D Mitchell (do), Q Cooper (Queensland Reds), L Burgess (NSW Waratahs); J Slipper (Queensland Reds), S Moore (Brumbies), S Kepu (NSW Waratahs), J Horwill (Queensland Reds, capt), N Sharpe (Western Force), S Higginbotham, (Queensland Reds), D Pocock (Western Force), B McCalman (do).

Replacements: T Polota Nau (Waratahs), S Fainga’a (Reds), S Ma’afu (Brumbies), R Simmons (Reds), R Elsom (Brumbies), W Genia (Reds), N Phipps (Melbourne Rebels).

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