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Berrick Barnes will be key to sparking the Wallabies attack when he is named in the starting line up to take on England at Twickenham this weekend.
Barnes ran at fullback during Australia’s first full training session in London on Tuesday and appears to be coach Robbie Deans’s preferred option over Mike Harris for Saturday’s Test match.
The hope is his presence on the pitch and connection with five-eighth Kurtley Beale and centre Pat McCabe will help the Wallabies attack click into gear after a stilted showing against France.
There is less certainty about Digby Ioane, who declared himself fit to start but ran in opposition for the majority of training, with Nick Cummins continuing on the wing with Adam Ashley-Cooper.
The pair swapped over towards the end of the session and Ioane spent extra time practising under the high ball and chasing grubber kicks before finishing in deep conversation with Deans.
Ben Alexander appears to be in line for the starting tight head position in the front row after recovering from a wrist injury, sending Sekope Kepu back to the bench alongside James Slipper. Loose head Benn Robinson pulled out of training early after appearing to hurt his knee, but
it’s believed he’s not in danger of missing the match.
Imposing lock Sitaleki Timani also ran with the team and appears to be in line to regain the starting second row spot beside Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe, while flanker Michael Hooper has been assured of starting in the absence of David Pocock, who is nursing a calf strain.
The make up of the rest of the back row and bench is in limbo after the loss of lock Kane Douglas to a knee complaint and Rob Simmons’s upcoming appearance before the citing commissioner for a lifting tackle on France flanker Yannick Nyanga.
Simmons’s case will be heard via video conference very early on Thursday morning, Australian eastern time.
Likely team: Berrick Barnes, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ben Tapuai, Pat McCabe, Nick Cummins/Digby Ioane, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Nathan Sharpe (c), Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.
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