Saturday 23 March 2019

Michael Cheika makes one change to Wallabies XV for World Cup Final

James Slipper has been left out of the Australian team to play New Zealand in Saturday's World Cup Final
James Slipper has been left out of the Australian team to play New Zealand in Saturday's World Cup Final

Loosehead prop Scott Sio will return to the Wallabies starting lineup for Saturday's Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand after recovering from an elbow injury.

Sio, one of the key players in the Australian scrum, missed last weekend's semi-final win over Argentina after hurting his elbow a week earlier against Scotland.

But, in a major boost to the Wallabies' chances of winning, Sio has been cleared to make his return for the final at Twickenham in the only change to the starting side that scored four unanswered tries to beat the Pumas 29-15.

James Slipper, who filled in for Sio, returns to the bench while reserve prop Toby Smith was dropped from the 23-man squad.

Fullback Israel Folau, who has been battling an ankle injury and only lasted an hour against Argentina, was also cleared to play, as was veteran inside centre Matt Giteau, who hurt his groin playing against the Pumas.

Giteau, 33, is the lone survivor from the last Australian team to play in the World Cup final, in 2003.

The Wallabies, bidding to win the World Cup for the third time after previous successes in 1991 and 1999, have trained only lightly this week to keep themselves fresh for the final.

The Australian head coach Michael Cheika said the team's final preparations have focussed on some specific smaller areas that he wanted to perfect before they face the All Blacks.

"This week we've had a strong focus on improving certain areas in our game where we feel we haven't been at our best in the previous matches" he said.

"We still have lots of scope to improve and we'll work on that before this next match against New Zealand."

1-Scott Sio, 2-Stephen Moore (captain), 3-Sekope Kepu, 4-Kane Douglas, 5-Rob Simmons, 6-Scott Fardy, 7-Michael Hooper, 8-David Pocock; 9-Will Genia, 10-Bernard Foley, 11-Drew Mitchell, 12-Matt Giteau, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 15-Israel Folau

Replacements: 16-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17-James Slipper, 18-Greg Holmes, 19-Dean Mumm, 20-Ben McCalman, 21-Nick Phipps, 22-Matt Toomua, 23-Kurtley Beale


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