All change for Australia as Elsom cleared fit

Australia coach Robbie Deans has made five changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s crunch clash with South Africa in Perth.

Australia coach Robbie Deans has made five changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s crunch clash with South Africa in Perth.

The absence of Berrick Barnes with a neck injury has forced a major backline reshuffle with Ryan Cross elevated to the starting side at outside-centre while the versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper will start at inside-centre.

Young gun James O’Connor has been cleared to play after overcoming a lower leg injury sustained against the All Blacks, while Peter Hynes returns to the starting XV on the wing at the expense of Drew Mitchell.

In another major boost for the Wallabies, blindside flanker Rocky Elsom, who was in serious doubt with an ankle complaint, has also been cleared to play after proving his fitness at today’s training run.

Forty-Test veteran Mark Chisolm will replace Nathan Sharpe (shoulder) in the second-row while tighthead prop Ben Alexander has been handed a start ahead of veteran Al Baxter who reverts to the bench.

Chisolm has not appeared at Test level since last season’s Spring Tour match against Wales, and has only played two club matches since returning from a dislocated wrist suffered during the Super 14.

The Wallabies must win to keep their slim Tri Nations hopes alive while a victory for the Springboks would all but assure them the crown for the first time since 2004.

AUSTRALIA:

J O’Connor; L Turner, R Cross, A Ashley-Cooper, P Hynes; M Giteau, L Burgess; B Robinson, S Moore, B Alexander, J Horwill, M Chisolm, R Elsom, G Smith (captain), R Brown.

Replacements: T Polota-Nau, A Baxter, D Mumm, D Pocock, W Genia, Q Cooper, D Mitchell.

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