23 Jul 2008

League convert replaces injured Mortlock in Wallabies lineup

6:54 pm on 23 July 2008

The rugby league convert Ryan Cross will replace the injured Australia skipper Stirling Mortlock at centre for Saturday night's Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks in Sydney.

Mortlock was concussed in the Wallabies win over the world champions South Africa in Perth on Saturday.

Flanker George Smith takes over the captaincy.

Cross has played three previous tests, all off the bench, and made an immediate impression on his debut when he scored two tries against France.

Cross, who played rugby at schoolboy level, joined the John Mitchell coached Western Force Super 14 team two years ago.

With Cross promoted to the starting lineup, fellow league convert Timana Tahu has been elevated to the reserves.

Lock Dan Vickerman also comes onto the bench, replacing Hugh McMeniman, as he continues his comeback from the ankle injury and surgery which kept him out of the first four Tests of the year.