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46-Test veteran Tune back to face the All Blacks

allblacks.com     04 Jul 2006    

While the starting team from the Wallabies’ commanding 37-15 victory over Ireland in Perth two weeks ago has been retained, Connolly has made three changes to his reserves bench.

Reserve back Clyde Rathbone has been forced out due to a hamstring injury, giving 46-Test veteran Ben Tune an opportunity to resurrect his Wallabies career after a Test rugby hiatus of almost four years.

Tune last played for Australia on the 2002 tour of Argentina, before missing almost two full seasons through injury.

“He (Tune) is a great player and he’s worked extremely hard to earn this opportunity to play Test football again,” said Connolly.

“He will do a fine job for us on Saturday night when he gets his opportunity from the bench,” he said.

Tune will be joined on the bench by Matt Giteau, who earns his first selection in the 22 for the season after recovering from knee surgery.

Western Force Number 8 Scott Fava will also make his first appearance of the season after reserve forward Wycliff Palu was ruled out with a hamstring injury sustained during a training session at Coffs Harbour over the weekend.

Connolly said his Australian team had plenty of improvement in it after an unbeaten start to their 2006 campaign.

“We’ve had three good wins and we’re happy with our progress so far, but there is still a lot of improvement in this team,” he said.

“Playing against New Zealand is a massive step up from what we’ve had so far and we certainly acknowledge that we are going to have to lift another gear for them this Saturday night.”

“(New Zealand) are the best team in the world and they’ve got class all over the field, so we know what to expect from them,” said Connolly.