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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Williams replaces Tate for final

Australia have been forced into making one change for Saturday's World Cup final against New Zealand in Brisbane after Brent Tate was ruled out.

The winger has suffered a hip injury so his place in the side goes to David Williams, who scored a hat-trick on his Test debut against Papua New Guinea.

The Kiwis have named the same line-up that beat England in their semi-final.

Nathan Cayless and Sika Manu are both free to play after escaping with cautions over high tackles.

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney has decided to keep Thomas Leuluai at hooker, after switching him there from scrum-half for the semi-final, with Nathan Fien continuing in the number seven jersey.

And experienced Australia hooker Cameron Smith said he had been impressed by the way the changes had worked for the Kiwis.

"I think his shift there is because of the way Nathan Fien is playing at half," said Smith.

"He's obviously started in the dummy-half role but he's playing exceptionally well in the halves and I think that's the way it's worked out best for the Kiwis.

"Leuluai is a very good player and a lot of dummy-half players these days are ex-half-backs anyway.

"He's a great player and we're not going to be exploiting him more than any other player."

Australia beat the Kiwis in the last World Cup final and have won the last eight meetings between the teams, including a 30-6 victory in the group stages.

"Although we've beaten them once in this tournament already, it's going to be a totally different story on Saturday," added Smith.

"As soon as we finished the game against Fiji, we spoke about putting all the past games behind us. They won't really mean much this week."

Australia have won their four games by huge margins, scoring 180 points and conceding just 16.

"Obviously we probably would have liked a close, tough game leading into the final but that's the way our draw happened to go," said Smith.

"There's been some big scorelines but we think our preparation has been pretty good."

Kearney said his players would have a healthy amount of respect for Australia, but would not be overawed by the occasion.

"The Kangaroos have some wonderful players and they've played some fantastic football during the tournament so far," said Kearney.

"While we know we'll need to be a lot better against Australia, we're excited with the opportunity we have. We don't want to have any regrets on Saturday night."

New Zealand are seeking their first ever World Cup triumph, while Australia are looking to secure their 10th title.

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