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O'Connor to start as Australia No. 10 for 1st time

Updated: December 01, 2011, 06:19


CARDIFF, Wales(AP) James O'Connor will start a test for Australia at flyhalf for the first time against Wales on Saturday.

The 21-year-old wing started in the role in last week's 60-11 win over the Barbarians and was picked Thursday in a team showing two changes from the side that won that non-test match.

O'Connor did not score any of Australia's eight tries at Twickenham but put in a composed performance in place of the injured Quade Cooper and kicked seven conversions, a penalty and a drop goal.

Australia coach Robbie Deans selected an unchanged back line but made two switches to the pack.

Captain James Horwill will return to lead the side from the second row in place of Nathan Sharpe and Ben McCalman starts at No. 8 after withdrawing late from last weekend's starting lineup. David Dennis will drop out of the squad entirely.

Deans said his team will be wary of Wales, which competed strongly with the Wallabies in October's third-place playoff at the Rugby World Cup. Australia won that match in Auckland 21-18.

Inside center Berrick Barnes, wing Digby Ioane and scrumhalf Will Genia are the only Australia backs to start in the same positions they filled against Wales in their team's final World Cup match. The only change to the forwards is Rob Simmons starting ahead of Nathan Sharpe, who is on the bench. Wales is also hoping to give veteran wing Shane Williams a win on his 87th and final test appearance in a Welsh shirt.

"We experienced ourselves how powerful the additional motivation of playing for a mate can be, when Sharpie (Nathan Sharpe) had his 100th test in Auckland,'' Deans said. "There was no way any of the other players wanted to let him down. I've no doubts that the Welsh lads will be feeling just the same this week as we did in Auckland.

"Emotion plays a powerful role in competitive sport.''

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Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, James O'Connor, Will Genia; Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Scott Higginbotham, Rob Simmons, James Horwill (captain), Salesi Ma'afu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper. Reserves: Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Nathan Sharpe, Radike Samo, Ben Lucas, Ben Tapuai, Anthony Fainga'a.

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