Wallabies winger Drew Mithchell will return to face NZ

WINGER Drew Mitchell is set to make a remarkable return from an ankle injury in Saturday's dead rubber Bledisloe Cup match against the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium.

Waratahs medical staff believed Mitchell's tendon was ruptured when he injured it at the start of the year, and he sat out most of the Super Rugby season.

He then re-injured the ankle against the All Blacks in Auckland on August 25, coach Robbie Deans yesterday confirming Mitchell thought it may have been a career-ending injury.

An operation had been scheduled, but while playing the Olympic running races game on Xbox last month, the 28-year-old found he could not only move freely without his stability boot, he could also run and jump without pain.

After completing a training session in Brisbane yesterday, Mitchell has been named on the bench for the clash against the All Blacks.

While it was good news for Mitchell, back-up hooker Saia Fainga'a broke his hand at training and was ruled out. His place on the bench was taken by James Hanson.

Adam Ashley-Cooper and Wycliff Palu come back into the starting side for the injured Digby Ioane (knee) and rested Radike Samo.

Coach Robbie Deans said Ashley-Cooper and Palu were welcome inclusions to the starting XV.

"They're both proven Test performers so it is good to have them back," Deans said.

Meanwhile, tragedy has struck the All Blacks, with coach Steve Hansen's father Des dying in Christchurch yesterday.

It was unclear yesterday whether Steve would make the trip to Brisbane for the match.



Mike Harris, Nick Cummins, Ben Tapuai, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson.


James Hanson, James Slipper, Kane Douglas, Dave Dennis, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Drew Mitchell.