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Dublin: 1 °C Wednesday 26 February, 2020
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1 change in Australia team as they seek 1 more win to send Lions packing

George Smith is back in the Green and Gold after a three-year hiatus from international rugby.

'Here we go again'. Israel Folau will face George North in Sydney.
'Here we go again'. Israel Folau will face George North in Sydney.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

HARMONY REIGNS IN the Australia camp as Robbie Dean is able to make just the one tweak to the side that won the Second Test in Melbourne for the Lions Series decider on Saturday.

Openside flanker George Smith returns after three years of international retirement. Smith, who starred in the 2001 series win over the Lions, takes the place of Michael Hooper, who drops to the bench. The Wallabies are captained by James Horwill and five of their six units are unchanged from the 16-15 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Adam Ashley-Cooper, scoring of the Second Test’s only try, and nerveless goalkicker Christian Leali’fano are reunited in the midfield with Joe Tomane and the lethal Israel Folau on the wings. Despite looking off the pace in the second half last week, Kurtley Beale again starts at fullback.

Will Genia has allayed Australia fears that his knee injury is anything more than a niggling inconvenience. The scrumhalf starts alongside Melbourne Rebels outhalf James O’Connor.

The Lions may have made two changes to their front row but Deans is sticking with Benn and Ben [Robinson and Alexander] with hooker Stephen Moore in the middle. Horwill is, once again, joined by immovable object Kane Douglas in the second row. Wycliff Palu, quietly effective last week, gets the No.8 jersey and the impressive Ben Mowen is named as blindside flanker.

Australia XV to face Lions: Kurtley Beale; Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali’ifano, Joe Tomane; James O’Connor, Will Genia; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander; Kane Douglas, James Horwill (c); Ben Mowen, George Smith, Wycliff Palu.

Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper, Nick Phipps, Jesse Mogg.

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Patrick McCarry

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