Matt Giteau's Test future on the line as he pays price for shock defeat to Samoa

MATT Giteau has been dropped for the Tri-Nations series opener against South Africa, casting doubt on his World Cup role after Australia's shocking loss last weekend to Samoa.

Deans rested most of the Super 15-winning Queensland Reds last week but it backfired spectacularly, with a committed Samoan squad scoring four tries against two in a 32-23 victory at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.

As expected Reds halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper return to the starting line-up to play South Africa but Pat McCabe retained his spot at inside centre at the expense of Giteau, who scored 18 points when he filled in at fly-half against Samoa and had been expected to move back into midfield. The 28-year-old Giteau has been a pivotal member of the Wallabies backline and has played 92 Tests since his debut in 2002.

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Giteau ended his last season on the bench against France, with Deans favoring Cooper at flyhalf beside Berrick Barnes, who has sidelined himself indefinitely after a series of head knocks. With two-Test player McCabe preferred at 12 this time, Giteau appears to be slipping down the pecking order of centers as Deans opts for a bigger midfield to offset his relatively small Wallabies backline.

"Gits is part of the squad so he has a big role to play. We prepare as one and next week is another week," Deans replied to questions about Giteau's future. "We're presuming nothing going forward. Matt will obviously want a role going forward. He has a role going forward. We don't know exactly what that will entail as yet in terms of playing, that will unfold."

In other changes, James O'Connor and flanker David Pocock return from injuries to take on the Springboks, Queensland locks James Horwill and Robb Simmons were added to bolster Australia's second row and fullback Kurtley Beale and Genia were reinstated after starting on the bench last week.

"Last Sunday was a massive wake up call for the group. We can't turn back the clock on that performance, it will stay with us as a reminder, but we do have total control as to how we respond," Deans said. "Our standards were inadequate for what is required at test level and we paid the price. There are no short cuts in Test rugby. There is no substitute for rolling up the sleeves and doing the little tasks that, while they might not carry the glamour, are critical for the overall success of the team."

Other additions to the squad were Queensland Reds brothers Saia and Anthony Fainga'a, who were both included on the bench.

South Africa will start with three debutants. Props Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger will join loose forward Ashley Johnson in making their first appearance in Springboks colours after coach Peter De Villiers named his squad today.

Uncapped scrum-half Charl McLeod will also start on the bench as De Villiers has been forced to test the depth of his squad following a worrying run of injuries ahead of the World Cup. John Smit will lead the side with Greyling and Kruger either side of him in a forward pack that is also without experienced second row pair Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield due to injury. Lock Flip van der Merwe will therefore get his chance alongside Ulster's Johann Muller.

The Springboks' backline features joint Super Rugby top try scorer Bjorn Basson (nine tries) with Lwazi Mvovo no the other wing.

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Experienced half-backs Ruan Pienaar and Morne Steyn will pull the strings.

Australia: Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (captain), James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu. Substitutes: Saia Fainga'a, Pekahou Cowan, Nathan Sharpe, Matt Hodgson, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Anthony Fainga'a.

South Africa: Gio Aplon, Bjorn Basson, Juan De Jongh, Wynand Olivier, Lwazi Mvovo, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Ashley Johnson, Danie Roussouw, Deon Stegmann, Johann Muller, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, John Smit (captain), Dean Greyling. Substitutes: Chiliboy Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, Alistair Hargreaves, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod, Adrian Jacobs, Patrick Lambie.