JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

New versatility forged in adversity

"The team is starting to to really gel and understand each other" ... Adam Ashley-Cooper.

"The team is starting to to really gel and understand each other" ... Adam Ashley-Cooper. Photo: Reuters

PARIS: Even the injury cloud has a silver lining. On the eve of the most important of Australia's four northern hemisphere Tests, Adam Ashley-Cooper says the Wallabies back line has turned continual upheaval into an attacking ''weapon''.

''It was disruptive initially but now we have had a lot of changes throughout the back line, the team is starting to really gel and understand each other and each player in different positions,'' said Ashley-Cooper, who was named on the wing in an unchanged back line to take on France on Saturday.

''You look at our back line now, apart from halfback, there's really no specialists out there … We see that as being a weapon for us, being able to slide into a different position, no matter what phase it is during the 80 minutes, and perform.''

Ashley-Cooper will partner Nick Cummins on the wing in his fourth match out wide this season. Mike Harris has been named at fullback, Nick Phipps and Kurtley Beale reprise their halves partnership and Pat McCabe and Ben Tapuai combine in the midfield once again. Berrick Barnes, who recovered from a punctured lung to travel with the squad, has taken Drew Mitchell's place on the bench.

It is the closest the Wallabies backs have come to a consistent line-up this year. ''Initially [the change] is disruptive, you can't build combinations, particularly in the back line - the back three or the midfield,'' Ashley-Cooper said. ''But now … We have found a real cohesion, especially in the back line, which I think has laid a really good foundation for us moving forward, particularly towards the back end of the [Rugby Championship] and hopefully this tour.''

The forwards have shuffled a little, to accommodate the loss of hard-hitting second-rower Sitaleki Timani, who is being rested because of a lower-back complaint. Kane Douglas will start alongside captain Nathan Sharpe, with Rob Simmons on the bench. Dave Dennis will start in the No.6 jersey, Wycliff Palu will pack down at No.8 and Michael Hooper will start at openside. Radike Samo will provide much-needed physicality from the bench.

Versatile prop Sekope Kepu has been added at tighthead to a beefed-up front row, with James Slipper and Paddy Ryan on the bench. Tatafu Polota-Nau was named in the hooking role, leaving Stephen Moore on the bench for a game that will make him Australia's most capped hooker.

Ashley-Cooper, one of the few players remaining from the Wallabies side that last beat the French two years ago, said preparation was the key to victory then and would be again this weekend. ''Preparation against these guys is everything,'' he said. ''Looking back to the wins in 2008 and 2010, we prepared really well, so if we get the job done during the week I think the result will take care of itself on the weekend.''

The Wallabies coaching staff have been careful to remind the squad how different that 2010 victory felt to the blown-out scoreboard, which finished at 59-16. The players have been preparing for another ''arm wrestle'' during a bruising encounter.

''It was our last game of the tour,'' Ashley-Cooper said. ''We went in a little intimidated, not knowing what the outcome could have been, but it felt like it just clicked. The French were in it until the 60-65-minute mark and [with] some late tries at the end, we ran away with it.''

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
Featured advertisers