| Tough challenge for Deans following a record drubbing against SA [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia coach Robbie Deans has made good on his promise to wield the axe following his team's thrashing by South Africa by dumping five players for this
weekend's rugby Tri-Nations decider against New Zealand.
Deans dropped five players who started the embarrassing 53-8 loss to the Springboks in the hope of turning things around for Saturday's championship finale at Lang Park in Brisbane.
Inside centre Timana Tahu and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau paid the heaviest price when they were omitted from the 22-man squad while flanker Phil Waugh, loose forward Hugh McMeniman and prop Matt Dunning were relegated to the bench.
"Last week's gone and we've got a fantastic opportunity this weekend," Deans said.
"They weren't proud of their last outing so the priority for us is to be proud of what we leave behind this Saturday."
|Nathan Sharpe returns to the starting side as Deans looks for experienced hands[GALLO/GETTY]
Centre Ryan Cross, hooker Stephen Moore, flanker George Smith and prop Al Baxter were promoted to the starting lineup after coming off the bench last week.
Lock Nathan Sharpe, dropped for the first time in five years for the last match, was also recalled to the starting side as Deans reverted to his tried and trusted players.
"In every game you lose contests but it's not a matter of reinventing the wheel or tipping everything on its head," Deans said.
"It's a matter of sticking to what serves you and trying to win more of those little contests so that the outcome deals with itself."
Cross replaced Tahu at centre in the only personnel change to the backline with the other four switches in the pack.
Smith came in for Waugh at openside flanker, Sharpe returned for McMeniman, tighthead prop Baxter replaced Dunning and Moore was picked at hooker.
Adam Freier was named as back-up hooker and backrower Richard Brown was the only uncapped player in the squad after a surprise selection on a bench dominated by forwards.
"There's been a lot of fast, physical games and this will be both. That's the reason for the 5-2 (forwards-backs) split," Deans said.
Inside centre Berrick Barnes, scrumhalf Luke Burgess and lock Dan Vickerman were not considered because of injuries and captain Stirling Mortlock was moved to inside centre to allow Cross to start at outside.
"We've gone to the experienced blokes who've spent a bit of time playing together already this year," Deans said.
"I'm very excited about this week and very excited about this group.
"We've seen some great encounters in Tri-Nations and you're going to see an even better one on the weekend."
New Zealand announced a starting team which was unchanged from the All Blacks side that played in the last two rounds of the competition.
"It's a very competitive .... Tri-Nations series this year," New Zealand coach Graham Henry said in a statement.
"Every match has been more important than the one before it, and this test decides the championship.
"So we're trying to make sure we get our preparation exactly right."
Prop John Afoa, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, was bracketed with Neemia Tialata on the reserves bench with a decision on his fitness to be made later in the week.
15-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14-Peter Hynes, 13-Ryan Cross, 12-Stirling Mortlock (captain), 11-Lote Tuqiri, 10-Matt Giteau, 9-Sam Cordingley, 8-Wycliff Palu, 7-George Smith, 6-Rocky Elsom, 5-Nathan Sharpe, 4-James Horwill, 3-Al Baxter,
2-Stephen Moore, 1-Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16-Adam Freier, 17-Matt Dunning, 18-Hugh McMeniman, 19-Phil Waugh, 20-Richard Brown, 21-Brett Sheehan, 22-Drew Mitchell.
New Zealand squad:
15-Mils Muliaina, 14-Richard Kahui, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10-Dan Carter, 9-Jimmy Cowan, 8-Rodney So'oialo, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Ali Willliams, 4-Brad Thorn, 3-Greg Somerville,
2-Andrew Hore, 1-Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-John Afoa/Neemia Tialata, 18-Anthony Boric, 19-Adam Thomson, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Stephen Donald, 22-Isaia Toeava.