VETERAN LOCK Nathan Sharp will lead Australia when it plays Argentina on the Gold Coast this Saturday night.
In other changes made by coach Robbie Deans, Pat McCabe returns from injury, with Berrick Barnes shifting from second five to fullback in place of the out-of-form Kurtley Beale, while Nick Phipps comes in at halfback. Kane Douglas will also earn his first cap in the second row.
Sharpe takes over the captaincy from halfback Will Genia, who will be sidelined for six months after suffering a serious knee injury during the Wallabies’ 26-19 victory over the Springboks.
It will be the third time in his career that he will lead the side, having done the job against the All Blacks and Samoa in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
McCabe, who missed the first three Rugby Championship matches due to a stress fracture in his foot, returns instantly to the fold after playing 30 minutes of club rugby in Canberra at the weekend.
Because of his accurate goalkicking, Barnes will instead line up at fullback – a position he played regularly last season with Sydney University while recovering from several serious bouts of concussion – taking over from Beale, who seems low on confidence at present.
Phipps replaces Genia at halfback in what will be just his second start on the international stage, and a hamstring injury to Sitaleki Timani provides Douglas with his first opportunity at this level.
The absence of Genia, and the pre-scheduled shoulder operation which removed Brumbies halfback Nic White from the squad late last month, sees three-test Western Force No 9 Brett Sheehan take his place on the bench after a three-year absence from the Wallabies.
Hooker Stephen Moore has been bracketed in the reserves with Saia Faingaa. A decision on whether he will play will be made later.
Australia last played the Pumas in the opening game of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, winning 23-8.
Australia: Berrick Barnes, Dom Shipperley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Nick Phipps, Radike Samo, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Nathan Sharpe (c), Kane Douglas, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson
Reserves: Stephen Moore/Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper, Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Anthony Fainga'a, Kurtley Beale
There are plenty of mouth-watering clashes on offer this weekend.
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