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August 28, 2009

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Wallabies go local for Perth SA clash

AUSTRALIA named six Perth-based players, including teenage fullback James O'Connor, in its squad to take on South Africa in a Tri-Nations test at Subiaco Oval tomorrow.

O'Connor, center Ryan Cross, flyhalf Matt Giteau and No. 8 Richard Brown, all members of the Western Force Super 14 side, were named in the starting XV yesterday. Flanker David Pocock and winger Drew Mitchell were named in the reserves as Australia attempts to win its first match after three losses to open the tournament.

O'Connor, 19, has recovered from a calf injury to start a test for the fourth time. Flanker Rocky Elsom, who had just returned to the Wallabies after an injury layoff, was passed fit to play after overcoming an ankle injury in Australia's 18-19 loss to New Zealand last Saturday in Sydney.

"Rocky showed in his first outing how influential he can be," Australia coach Robbie Deans said. "He'll be better for having a game under his belt. James, with every outing, will develop composure and maturity and start to bring his own skill set to the game."

Center Berrick Barnes and lock Nathan Sharpe were ruled out earlier. Barnes injured his neck and sustained a concussion in last weekend's loss to the All Blacks, while Sharpe damaged his shoulder.

Australia must beat South Africa to stay alive in this year's Tri-Nations and to remain in contention for the Mandela Trophy, which has been contested on an annual basis by the two countries since 2000.

South Africa leads the series 1-0 after its 29-17 win over the Wallabies at Cape Town on August 8.


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