Australian rugby captain George Gregan will equal England prop Jason Leonard's record of 114 test caps and team with Mat Rogers at flyhalf when the Wallabies play New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday in the final Tri-Nations match.
Attempting to break a four-game losing streak, scrumhalf Gregan will lead a side with five personnel changes, including three test rookies in Alex Kanaar, Lachlan MacKay and Lloyd Johansson. There were also five positional changes in the starting lineup named in Sydney on Wednesday from the last test against South Africa in Perth two weeks ago.
Australia has not won a test match at Eden Park since 1986. With Rogers starting at flyhalf for the first time, newly named vice captain Morgan Turinui will start at inside center with Clyde Rathbone at outside and Lote Tuqiri, Mark Gerrard and Drew Mitchell making up the back three.
Australian coach Eddie Jones said the team appears ready to break its losing streak. Flyhalf Leon MacDonald sat out an All Blacks training run for the second straight day Wednesday, casting doubt on his fitness for the Australian match. MacDonald, who has taken the place of injured star Daniel Carter, warmed up with his teammates but took no part in a physical run, choosing to rest hip and leg injuries. Flanker Marty Holah has recovered from a stomach ailment and took a full part in training but replacement prop Greg Somerville was absent because of family commitments.
Defending champions South Africa leads the Tri-Nations competition with 13 points after last weekend's 31-27 loss to New Zealand at Dunedin. New Zealand has 10 points and must beat Australia to claim the 2005 title.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18