14 Oct 2011

Wallabies give Beale 24 hours to prove fitness

8:17 pm on 14 October 2011

Australia have given fullback Kurtley Beale another 24 hours to prove his fitness for the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand and provisionally named him in the team for Sunday's clash in Auckland.

Beale, who aggravated a hamstring injury in the quarter-final victory over South Africa last weekend, was bracketed with Adam Ashley-Cooper in the team named on Friday.

The versatile Ashley-Cooper, who has played 19 tests at fullback and also appeared on the wing at the tournament, will retain his place at outside centre if Beale starts, with Anthony Faingaa dropping back to the bench in place of the fit-again Rob Horne, Reuters reports.

"We'll communicate that decision after the Captain's Run tomorrow morning," coach Robbie Deans said of Beale on Friday.

"He'll have to convince us he's 100 percent. He ran this morning. He'll have to go again tomorrow and be able to convince himself and then us that he's good to."

One of Australia's most potent attacking threats, the 22-year-old would be a big loss to the Wallabies as they attempt to reach a fourth World Cup final this weekend.

"Kurtley's been a constant with us throughout, he is a great presence in the group, whether he's running or just providing voice," Deans said.

Lock Nathan Sharpe will not win his 100th cap in the match after Rob Simmons was preferred on the bench as back-up to James Horwill and Dan Vickerman in the second row.

Prop Sekope Kepu, who was the other main injury concern, has recovered sufficiently from his ankle injury to take his place in the front row of a pack unchanged from the victory over the Springboks.

New Zealand-born Quade Cooper retains his position at first five-eighth despite an indifferent performance against South Africa to continue the halfback partnership with Will Genia that goes back to their schooldays.

James O'Connor, another versatile back who was an option to replace Beale at fullback, stays on the wing and is expected to retain place-kicking duties.

Deans said the Wallabies needed to step up considerably from their performance against South Africa last week, where they had very little possession and were forced to defend for much of the match.


Starting XV: Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Radike Samo, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, James Horwill (captain), Dan Vickerman, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu.

Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Luke Burgess, Berrick Barnes, Anthony Faingaa.