Byline: Darren Walton AAP
WALLABIES coach Robbie Deans insists he's merely resting workhorse flanker Rocky Elsom after omitting Australia's deposed captain from tomorrow night's Rugby World Cup third-place playoff.
Deans included six fresh faces among eight changes to face Wales at Eden Park, but found no place for Elsom in his 22-man squad.
The dynamic Scott Higginbotham replaces Elsom as blindside flanker for only his second Test start in his preferred position on the side of the scrum after a series of impressive cameos this season off the bench.
Deans controversially stripped Elsom of the captaincy on the day of Australia's squad announcement three weeks before the tournament, but yesterday said the 28-year-old simply needed a break after starting in 10 of Australia's 11 Tests in 2011.
aYou can read into it what you like. It won't necessarily be right,a Deans said.
aRocky was available. We looked at the short turnaround, he's had a big workload and Scott's jumping out of his skin. So that was the rationale there.a
Star fullback Kurtley Beale returns after missing Australia's 20-6 semi-final loss to New Zealand on Sunday, while Berrick Barnes replaces the injured Pat McCabe (shoulder) in the centres.
aBerrick's working his way back to full confidence and playing well,a Deans said.
aWe just felt for this week he warranted a bit more of a dig. He played half the game last week and, in terms of the options that we have, we felt he was best equipped.a