By Greg Stutchbury
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Injured flanker David Pocock was missing again as Australia shook up their side to play the United States in their rugby World Cup Pool C match on Friday, with scrumhalf Will Genia assuming the captaincy for the first time.
Pocock was a late withdrawal from the Wallabies side to play Ireland last Saturday with a back injury and his absence was sorely missed by the Tri-Nations champions, who were dominated at the breakdown as Ireland won the match 15-6.
"He's not available for selection, but is getting better," coach Robbie Deans told reporters in Wellington before adding that he felt all of his injured players, apart from winger Digby Ioane, should be available for selection next week against Russia in Nelson.
Ioane has a broken thumb and said earlier this week he hoped to be available for the quarter-finals.
Captain James Horwill has been rested for the match to allow a "niggle" in his shoulder to settle down, Deans said while James O'Connor had a slight hamstring strain and they had erred on the side of caution with the winger.
"While an MRI earlier in the week cleared him (Horwill) of any major damage, it's obvious that a break wouldn't hurt to we have taken that option," Deans said.
Flanker Scott Higinbotham was named in the starting lineup earlier on Wednesday but was forced to withdraw after he suffered a back twinge at training.
"I've been assured by the medical staff that it is a matter of days rather weeks," Deans said of Higginbotham's return.
Rocky Elsom has returned to the starting lineup after Higginbotham's withdrawal. Replacement hooker Saia Faingaa was also a late withdrawal through illness and Stephen Moore will move on to the bench.
Number eight Ben McCalman will again deputise for Pocock as coach Robbie Deans gave a number of untried squad members a chance to impress against the U.S. Eagles.
Deans said the team had been honest with itself after their loss to Ireland, which made their potential path to the final more difficult with a quarter-final against the South Africans and semi-final against the All Blacks now a possibility.
"It wasn't pleasant and not an experience that any of us enjoyed," Deans said of their performance at Eden Park last Saturday.
"We were poor in our decision making, we were poor in our discipline, which is part of decision making and we were poor in the contact.
"Those are three areas at a World Cup, without those three components you're kidding yourself."
Australia: 15-Kurtley Beale, 14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13-Anthony Faingaa, 12-Robert Horne, 11-Drew Mitchell, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Will Genia (captain), 8-Wycliff Palu, 7-Ben McCalman 6-Rocky Elsom, 5-Nathan Sharpe, 4-Rob Simmons, 3-Ben Alexander, 2-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1-James Slipper
Replacements: 16-Stephen Moore, 17-Sekope Kepu, 18-Dan Vickerman, 19-Radike Samo, 20-Luke Burgess, 21-Berrick Barnes, 22-Pat McCabe
(Editing by Alastair Himmer)