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Samo on the Wallabies wing to play Russia at RWC

Updated: September 28, 2011, 21:45


NELSON, New Zealand(AP) Backrower Radike Samo's move to the wing and openside flanker David Pocock's return from a back injury are the most notable selections in Australia's starting lineup to play Russia at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.

The 35-year-old Samo hasn't started a match on the wing since he played club rugby for the Canberra Vikings in 1999.

Pocock withdrew on the morning of the match again Ireland on Sept. 17 because of a back injury, the 15-6 loss putting the Wallabies on course to finish on the same side of the knockout draw as defending champion South Africa and top-ranked New Zealand.

"We've had to be a bit creative but it's never been about the number on their back,'' Australia coach Robbie Deans said. "The players all know the role play. While some of them might be out of their normal positions, they won't let us down and will enjoy the opportunity.''

Injury-plagued Australia made six changes Thursday from the team that beat United States 67-5 last week for the Pool C match at Trafalgar Park.

In the backs, only flyhalf Quade Cooper and winger Drew Mitchell remain from the Wellington match against the Americans.

James O'Connor returns from a hamstring strain and is at fullback, inside center Berrick Barnes will make his first test start in 2011 after his Super 15 season was curtailed by concussion. While Adam Ashley-Cooper slots back into his preferred outside center position and scrumhalf Luke Burgess starts for the first time at the tournament.

Fullback Kurtley Beale, winger Digby Ioane and centers Rob Horne, Pat McCabe and Anthony Fainga'a are still injured and weren't considered.

In the forwards, captain and lock James Horwill is back to partner Nathan Sharpe in the second row, while Ben McCalman moves back to his favored No. 8 position after playing on the openside flank in place of the injured Pocock against Ireland and the Americans.

The injury crisis has forced Deans to pick two hookers on the bench in Tatafu Polota-Nau and Saia Fainga'a and two scrumhalves in Will Genia and Nick Phipps.

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Australia: James O'Connor, Radike Samo, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Luke Burgess; Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill, James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu. Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Saia Fainga'a, Salesi Ma'afu, Rob Simmons, Rocky Elsom, Will Genia, Nick Phipps.

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