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Palu back for All Blacks Test

Date
Recalled ... Wycliff Palu returns from injury for the Wallabies.

Recalled ... Wycliff Palu returns from injury for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images

The Wallabies will gamble on the fitness of returning No.8 Wycliff Palu in Saturday night's Bledisloe Test after naming the enforcer to start against the high-flying All Blacks.

Palu, who hasn't played for more than three months, is one of four changes to the Australian starting XV which defeated Argentina on October 7 in Rosario.

The bullocking Waratahs forward last played for the Wallabies in the 3-0 whitewash of Wales in June but has been sidelined by a shoulder nerve problem which cut his Super Rugby season short.

Palu replaces Radike Samo at the back of the scrum in a reshuffled back-row with the Queensland Reds veteran rested despite being cleared of a biceps injury.

The Wallabies’ bewildering injury woes have worsened with hooker Saia Faingaa the latest to be added to their long list of sidelined players.

Reserve rake Faingaa has been ruled out after breaking his hand at training today.

The Queensland hooker has been replaced on the bench by Reds’ teammate James Hanson who is set to make his international debut at Suncorp Stadium.

Faingaa’s blow comes after rookie winger Dom Shipperley was also ruled out of the Bledisloe clash with a lingering wrist injury.

Shipperley missed a bruising morning contact session at Ballymore as he was sent for scans which could determine whether he requires surgery that could rule him out of next month’s end-of-season tour of Europe.

Fellow winger Digby Ioane had already continued a disastrous year on the injury front when he was scratched from the Wallabies’ backline on Monday night due to a knee injury.

Coach Robbie Deans, with more than half of his best 22 unavailable, believes Faingaa should be right to tour France, England, Italy and Wales next month and also remained hopeful the destructive Ioane would be fit.

Scott Higginbotham, who played 71 minutes off the bench in Rosario, will start at blind-side flanker with Sitaleki Timani moving into the second row at the expense of Kane Douglas.

In the other alteration to the pack, prop Benn Robinson starts at loose-head ahead of James Slipper while utility Adam Ashley-Cooper replaces injured winger Digby Ioane in the only change to the backline.

Palu - who will oppose a red-hot All Black back-row of Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Liam Messam - only returned to the Wallabies squad on Sunday but coach Deans said he was a proven Test performer who was "champing at the bit".

"Cliffy has spent a long time on the sideline but he was an important part of the group in June," Deans told AAP on Sunday.

"He's very fit - he's used his time well. It's been frustrating for him waiting with a nerve-based problem and you have to be patient with that."

Fellow Waratahs star Drew Mitchell is also set to make his return from injury on Saturday night off the bench.

Mitchell last played in the 22-0 second Bledisloe Test loss to New Zealand in Auckland but has made a remarkable recovery after initially being scheduled to undergo ankle surgery.

Ioane's knee injury means Kiwi-born Mike Harris will stay at fullback and Ben Tapuai at outside centre as Ashley-Cooper, the Wallabies most-experienced back with 72 caps, returns on the wing.

The No.1-ranked All Blacks, involved in a training camp in Christchurch, are aiming to equal their record 17-Test winning streak at Suncorp Stadium.

They are scheduled to name their side on Thursday.

Team: Mike Harris, Nick Cummins, Ben Tapuai, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: James Hanson, James Slipper, Kane Douglas, Dave Dennis, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Drew Mitchell.

AAP

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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
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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
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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
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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
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RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
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Round 5
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USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
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