Rugby

Wallabies take aim at BaaBaas

2011-11-25 12:11
Robbie Deans (File)
London - Australia will try to gain some valuable pointers for the future when they face a star-studded Barbarians team at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Wallabies may have won this year's Tri-Nations but a World Cup where they were well beaten in the semi-finals by eventual champions New Zealand, having already lost in the group phase to Ireland, took much of the shine off.

Australia coach Robbie Deans is using the match against the Barbarians, which is not a full international, to give outstanding back-row forward David Pocock a first chance to captain the Wallabies.

Pocock takes over from regular captain James Horwill, who is on the bench ahead of next week's Test against Wales - the team Australia beat to finish third at the World Cup.

"It's not new territory for him," said Deans of his decision to make Pocock captain.

He has been driving the group to a an extent and we thought it was a great opportunity to give him real experience."

The 23-year-old Pocock said the honour of leading Australia would not change his approach to the game.

"You have just got to lead a lot more by your actions, rather than inspire everybody by delivering a good speech or whatever," the 39-times capped Pocock said.

Former New Zealand international Deans has also moved James O'Connor in from the wing to fly-half in place of Quade Cooper, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the playoff win over Wales.

Deans could have installed the versatile Berrick Barnes, much praised after taking over as the main playmaker against Wales in Auckland following Cooper's injury, in the No 10 shirt.

"We had the choice of Berrick or James and we opted to put James straight in the deep end so to speak by putting him at 10," said Deans.

"He has worked at it this week and last week and his head has been spinning on occasions it would be fair to say because it is very different to playing on the end of the chain."

The Barbarians, rugby union's most famous invitational team and whose matches are generally known for witnessing more attacking rugby from both sides than a standard Test match, have turned what was threatening to become a lopsided end of year fixture into a genuine contest.

Last season they beat then world champions South Africa at Twickenham, having defeated New Zealand there in 2009.

This year they will be coached by New Zealand World Cup winning supremo Graham Henry, with the starting side featuring several of his victorious All Blacks including forwards Jerome Kaino and Keven Mealamu.

South Africa great Victor Matfield captains the side and pairs up in the second row with England's Simon Shaw.

The Barbarians back division features England discard Danny Cipriani, now playing club rugby for the Melbourne Rebels and Springbok wing Bryan Habana.

Traditionally, the Barbarians include at least one uncapped player.

But as well as selecting Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean, this year they've also gone one better by picking England Rugby League international Sam Tomkins, who on Saturday will be playing his first game in the 15-man code.

A scheduling quirk means Tomkins will be facing the Wallabies just a week after playing for England in their Four Nations rugby league final loss to Australia's Kangaroos.

"Playing them both in eight days is something strange for me," Tomkins said.

"I have massive respect for rugby union as well as rugby league."

Teams:

Barbarians:

15 Isaia Toeava (NZL); 14 Sam Tomkins (England RL), 13 Robbie Fruean (Crusaders/NZL),12 Stirling Mortlock (AUS), 11 Bryan Habana (RSA), 10 Danny Cipriani (ENG), 9 Peter Stringer (IRL), 8 Adam Thomson (NZL), 7 Jerome Kaino (NZL), 6 Mauro Bergamasco (ITA), 5 Victor Matfield (RSA, captain), 4 Simon Shaw (ENG), 3 Sylvain Marconnet (FRA), 2 Keven Mealamu (NZL), 1 Eusebio Guinazu (ARG)

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss (RSA), 17 Salvatore Perugini (ITA), 18 Marco Bortolami (ITA), 19 Jason White (SCO), 20 Seru Rabeni (FIJ), 21 Richard Kahui (NZL),22  Nemia Kenatale (FIJ)

Australia:

15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Ioane Digby, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock (captain), 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 James Slipper

Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 James Horwill, 19 David Dennis, 20 Matt Hodgson, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Ben Tapuai

Read more on:    james horwill  |  david pocock
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