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Palu back for All Blacks Test

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.


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Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
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NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
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SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
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AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
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NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
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ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
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SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
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IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
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TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
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WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
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NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
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SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
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ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
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CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
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SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
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AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
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