Rugby World Cup 2011: Australia's Kurtley Beale to miss NZ semi

Australia's Kurtley Beale has his troublesome left hamstring stretched in training
Australia's Beale has his troublesome left hamstring stretched in training

Australia full-back Kurtley Beale will miss Sunday's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Auckland.

The 22-year-old failed to recover sufficiently from a hamstring strain sustained in their quarter-final victory over South Africa.

Adam Ashley-Cooper will switch to full-back with Anthony Fainga'a coming into the side at outside centre.

He partners Pat McCabe, who has recovered from a shoulder injury, in midfield with Rob Horne on the bench.

"It's disappointing but is an outcome we'd catered for through our preparation this week," coach Robbie Deans said of Beale's absence.

"We always anticipated it would be unlikely that Kurtley would be ready, but we wanted to give him every opportunity to make it. Unfortunately time has run out."

Beale, who won this year's John Eales Medal as the outstanding Australia rugby player of the season, believes he will be ready to play in the final next Sunday if his team-mates can beat the All Blacks without him.

"It's going to be tough watching it from the sidelines, I can't deny that, but it's about the team, not me," he said.

"We've tried, and the medical staff have done a great job, but it's best for the team that I miss this one. I'm not far away and will hopefully be ready to go next week."

On the bench, Rob Simmons is selected ahead of veteran lock Nathan Sharpe, who will have to wait to become only the fifth Australian to win 100 Test caps.

"We make the decisions that we believe are going to be best for us and sentiment around the 100 [Tests] doesn't come into consideration," Deans added.

"Rob is athletic and he's got a slightly different skills set to Sharpie and we anticipate a lateral challenge from the All Blacks.

"We suspect they will use the ball side to side, they will see some opportunities to do that from our last outing and that's the point of difference between Simmons and Sharpe."

Australia's last victory over New Zealand at Eden Park was in 1986 and the All Blacks have not been beaten by anyone at the ground in 17 years.

But Deans believes those statistics will count for little on Sunday.

"Those are impressive numbers for sure," he said. "But they don't matter once Sunday's match kicks off.

"Rugby World Cup elimination matches are stand-alone contests, distinct from any other that are played in the international game.

"The pressure is divided equally on both sides as there is no tomorrow, and the ultimate prize [a place in the Rugby World Cup final] awaits the side which earns that right of passage."

Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper; James O'Connor, Anthony Fainga'a, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dan Vickerman, James Horwill (capt), Rocky Elsom, David Pocock, Radike Samo.

Replacements: Tatafu Polota Nau, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Luke Burgess, Berrick Barnes, Rob Horne.

Catch up with more news from New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup round-up.