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Wallaby depth tested to the full

There is no doubt that injuries have played havoc with Robbie Deans's selection options – even forcing him to name a new captain.

The biggest loss of all is stalwart James Horwill – both in terms of captaincy and experience.


The result is that Deans will have to fall back on veteran Nathan Sharpe, who will officially retire at the end of the year. But for now he will have to do a part-time job in the second row.


Captaincy is an interesting poser, as Deans have dumped former captain Rocky Elsom, leaving him with Western Force skipper David Pocock and Reds scrumhalf Will Genia as two of the most experienced campaigners and frontrunners for Horwill's job.


Injuries will also test the Wallabies' backline depth.


The biggest loss to the Wallaby backline is the absence of the injured James O'Connor. 


While he was not used in the midfield last year, his role was vital in providing balance to the entire backline combination. Not only was he the first-choice goalkicker, but as an additional playmaker he often came off his wing to cause havoc.


There is also no doubt that the shoulder injury suffered by Rebels utility back Kurtley Beale has further complicated matters. 


Since it has been revealed Beale will not undergo surgery, but rather continue his rehabilitation with the Wallabies' medical staff, there was some hope the gifted back might play a part in the three-Test series against Six Nations champions Wales later in June.


But for next week's one-off Test against Scotland he will not be considered.


This means Deans has no option but to start with Quade Cooper at flyhalf.


Waratahs utility Adam Ashley-Cooper has emerged as first choice at No.15, but we have to confess that he would have been a starter on the wing for us. Beale's absence left us with no choice but to use Ashley-Cooper's experience in the last line of defence. Wallaby team: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Pat McCabe, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 David Pocock (captain), 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.

Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Ben Mowen, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Anthony Fainga'a.


By Jan de Koning


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