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    Was out of the office the last few days...I know a feww people enjoy these....:


    Australia prepared to weather the storm.
    <DIV =LeadPara>John O'Sullivan gets the views of Australia captain Stirling Mortlock ahead of Sunday's eagerly awaited Test match at Lansdowne Road </DIV>
    <DIV =LeadPara>Chris Latham eschewed the normal pre-game banalities. Despite being prompted to toss a few bouquets Ireland's way after their victory over South Africa last week, the Australian fullback preferred to focus on what his team need to do to win Sunday's Test encounter. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"It's a little bit hard to judge with the team that South Africa brought out. Obviously the way that they (Ireland) defended and put on the points early certainly showed a lot of promise there." </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Of greater import for the one-time Munster target was the likely weather conditions; rain. "It's no secret that we are used to training in nice weather, (on) hard fields. We got the weather report leading into this week and for us (the conditions) will be the total opposite. Mentally we have to be ready (for that and) as they have their strongest side on the pitch." </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>He wasn't about to place much store in the most recent clash between the teams - in Perth last summer - pointing out, "different time, different occasion, different place. We are coming off the back of a long season, they're just starting to get into theirs and they'll be looking forward to kicking off this season with a couple of wins. Obviously they'll want to carry on from that win last week." </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Australia coach John Connolly's decision to relocate his captain Stirling Mortlock to the inside's centre's role and thereby instigating a new midfield partnership with Lote Tuqiri, sits easily on the former's broad shoulders, despite the fact that he's never started a Test match there. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Mortlock pointed out: "The way the game is going, the significance about the number on your back is less. I suppose you could find yourself anywhere. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"There are a lot of forwards that get out there in the backline and (they) can play similar (roles) to centres. From my end there is a little bit more of an emphasis on knowing the time to get in as first receiver from certain phases. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"That's the only real difference. When I was playing out wide I'd try and run (through) holes a lot more. It's just a subtle change in making sure than I am really confident with the defensive changes at 12. It's not too much but there are little variances. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"Having the experience of captaining Super 12 and Super 14 teams; certainly it becomes a lot easier. It's about making sure that all the senior players bear a bit of the responsibility and not to let it wear down my game first and foremost." </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan is a fan of the Australian captain offering the following endorsement: "Stirling Mortlock is a big player for Australia when he's in the middle of the park. A lot of good things happen around him. He's a very good footballer and a strong man. I've always admired him." </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>It's reasonable to assume Mortlock and Tuqiri's roles may interchange during the game in much the same way their counterparts in the Ireland side, Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll, mix and match. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>The memory of Ireland's victory - their only one in the last 16 meetings between the countries - at Lansdowne Road in 2002, a game played in appalling conditions has struck a chord with the Wallabies. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Mortlock ad
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    #2


    Connolly confused by Ireland selection
    <DIV =LeadPara>IRELAND'S decision to omit Peter Stringer, their No 1 scrum-half, from the XV to face Australia on Sunday has surprised Wallabies coach John Connolly. </DIV>
    <DIV =LeadPara>Ireland have decided to give Ulster's Isaac Boss his first start but Connolly said: "I don't know what's going on in the selection process. Stringer's combination with Ronan O'Gara is outstanding. It was a big call.'' </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>However, Connolly was full of praise for Ireland and believes they are in better shape than when Australia won 37-15 in Perth last summer. Ireland defeated South Africa 32-15 last weekend and Connolly added: "They're at the top of their game. Over the past 15 years, depth has been a problem but now they have solved that. This is as good an Irish team as I've seen.'' </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Australia have also made changes following a win over Italy, with Connolly moving Stephen Larkham back from centre to his usual position of outside-half. The reshuffle leaves Stirling Mortlock and Lote Tuqiri at centre, with Mark Gerrard on the wing. Mat Rogers is on the bench. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Argentina, who face Italy in Rome tomorrow, have made eight changes to the team that defeated England last Saturday. Among the missing players is Felipe Contepomi, who is sitting a medical exam in Dublin. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>(c) 2006 Telegraph Group Limited, London </DIV>


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      #3


      Ireland skipper warns of pressure on new faces
      <DIV =LeadPara>Brian O’Driscoll has told Ireland’s new arrivals the heroics against South Africa must be reproduced in Sunday’s showdown with Australia. </DIV>
      <DIV =LeadPara>Ireland made a blistering start to their autumn schedule courtesy of a 32-15 victory over the Springboks, a result that has given head coach Eddie O’Sullivan room to experiment. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>In come rookie Ulster duo Isaac Boss and Bryan Young for their full Test debuts while Geordan Murphy, who has lost ground to Girvan Dempsey at full back, is handed the number 15 jersey. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>Denis Hickie, a Test veteran like Murphy, completes the changes with first-choice left winger Andrew Trimble ruled out because of a hamstring problem. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>O’Driscoll believes the quartet’s inclusion underlines the strength of Irish rugby but has warned they are under pressure to deliver following the Springbok demolition job. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"The changes show we have real depth. The four lads have slotted in and the team doesn’t look like it’s been weakened in any shape or form," said the Ireland captain. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"It’s a nice place to be at. Eddie said he wanted to try out a few combinations on a big stage like the Australia game. They’re getting their opportunities now. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"Bossy is playing very well for Ulster this season. He showed what a threat he was when he came on against South Africa. He snipes extremely well. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"Denis and Geordan are both seasoned internationals. They have a wealth of experience. We set ourselves a good standard last weekend and I’ve spoken about not dipping below that bar. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"There’s real pressure on the lads who are coming in – and those who have hung onto their places – to re-enact the whole thing. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"Following last weekend there is balance to strike between keeping a lid on our enthusiasm and encouraging the guys to do more of the same." </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>Australia’s Achilles heel is the scrum so handing Young his full Test debut - Marcus Horan drops to the bench – does not represent a risk. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>However, Ireland boss O’Sullivan denied the inclusion of Young, who won his third cap during the 37-15 summer defeat by the Wallabies, suggests he is underestimating the tourists. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>While O’Sullivan has hailed the 25-year-old Ulster prop’s ability to play on both sides of the scrum, he insists he is more comfortable at loose head. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"I had to put Bryan in at some stage during this season but that doesn’t mean I’m underestimating the Australian scrum by any means," he said. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"It’s time for Bryan to step up to the plate and start a Test to see where he goes. He’s been doing very well for Ulster. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"I’m glad he’s been operating as a loosehead and tighthead. It’s good for a prop to get experience on both sides of the scrum and it makes him a very valuable commodity. </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>"But he’s more comfortable on the loosehead and that’s why we’ve put him there for Australia. It’s where he’s played most of his rugby." </DIV>
      <DIV =TailParas>© Irish Examiner, 2006. Thomas Crosbie Media, TCH </DIV>
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      Comment


        #4


        Running out after playing patient game.
        <DIV =LeadPara>Interview with Bryan Young: John O'Sullivan talks to the loosehead Ulster prop </DIV>
        <DIV =LeadPara>Bryan Young's international Test career has arrived by a somewhat more circuitous route than many might have anticipated from his early underage playing days. He was selected for pretty much every representative team, national and provincial, in age-grade rugby, captaining most, including the Ireland Schools in 1999. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>The script called for a measured progression through the senior ranks but it hasn't panned out quite that way. Less than a fortnight past his 25th birthday, he will make his first start in his fourth appearance for the national side against Australia, at Lansdowne Road on Sunday. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>Having made his senior debut for Ulster in 2002 it was only last season he finally established himself in the provincial set-up on a consistent basis thereby facilitating an ambition to make the national squad. The wilderness years saw him play more All-Ireland League rugby with Ballymena than he might have anticipated. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>There's no doubting his ability as anyone who's seen him in the last 18 months alone will attest. His gradual progression has permitted him to hone the tools of the propping trade. "Bear", as he is known to his team-mates, is a renowned scrummager while also boasting all the requisite skills of the modern prop. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>Unaffected by his new-found status, Young, admitted to being pleasantly surprised in winning a starting role against the Wallabies. "I had to put my hand onto my heart to stop it jumping out of my chest. I didn't really expect it. Eddie (O'Sullivan) read out the team in a different order. He generally starts with number one. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>"That morning he started at 15 and then went from one to nine. When I heard my name I was in shock while obviously pleased at the same time. I just had to get my headset on for training and forget about it. Rory Best stuck his hand around while the meeting was still going on." </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>Young's close friendship with the younger Best will help him cope when Sunday comes. "He (Best) started against the Springboks and he can bring that experience to help me get through the opening exchanges. The first few scrums are going to be crucial. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>"He's (Best) a phenomenal scrummager. It helps to have someone like that there. We work together, bounce things off one another. If he is struggling then I'll get him going and vice versa. It's good to have that relationship." </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>Young is satisfied with certain aspects of his game but there are a few areas he'd like to polish. "As I moved into the Ulster team my ball carrying has waned a bit and I am trying to bring that aspect back into my game. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>"It's about just being up there and taking offloads, making myself available to carry the ball a bit more. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>"I know some of the guys that have been there before are really good ball carriers and they make themselves available. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>"The relationships that scrumhalves have (with their forwards), they just look for the big ball carriers. I just want to get my hands on the ball a bit more and make an impact in that facet of the game. My rucking has been improving." </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas>The return of former Ireland prop Justin Fitzpatrick after a spell with the Castres club in France didn't augur well for Young initially and the indication was that he would be on the periphery of the Ulster squad. </DIV>
        <DIV =TailParas><FONT size
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          #5


          Caesar’s assassin?
          <DIV =LeadPara>HE HASN’T read the Australian newspapers online, and he’s tip-toed around the praise that’s come his way since stepping into the scrum half position for the two tests against Wales and Italy. </DIV>
          <DIV =LeadPara>But it’s a big story in Australia: Matt Giteau, nominally an inside centre, inheriting — whether permanently or not — the No 9 shirt from Wallaby icon, George Gregan. His move to scrum-half, where he played at schools level up to the age of 19, has created a stir. A positive one. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>If he’s borrowing the jersey, he’s offering a more exciting, brasher alternative to Gregan’s predictable output of late. However, some Aussie newspapers draw analogies between Giteau’s ascent and a role akin to "Caesar’s assassin." </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>He laughs when this comparison is put to him by an Australian journalist and is unaware if such an analysis exists. He admits he hasn’t been at the end of any gentle ribbing from the squad over what seems, throughout the interview, a reluctant ambition to take the number nine shirt on a more permanent basis from his ACT Brumbies and Australian teammate (though Giteau leaves the Brumbies for Western Force next year). </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>Gregan received much bad press during the Tri-Nations and many perceive the world’s most capped player as hanging on too long and loath to give younger players a chance. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>By virtue of two impressive tests this autumn, Giteau is laying claim to a jersey that could be his come the World Cup in France next September. As things stand Gregan is being "rested" on this tour by coach John Connolly, but some believe he’s being put out to grass. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>"George (Gregan) in fact texted me and congratulated me after the Welsh game and said well done," says Giteau. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>"That was big of him but he’s a good friend. It’s a little bit uncomfortable thinking about taking over his position. You never know what the selectors will be thinking and George is the best half-back Australia has ever produced. I really respect him as a bloke and as a player." </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>Giteau’s impact on this tour to date hasn’t gone unnoticed by Eddie O’Sullivan, who was effusive in his praise of the 24-year-old. The Ireland coach views Giteau as a threat around the centre, a potential match-winner and a primary target for the home side’s defence. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>"That is a compliment, but I’m getting more encouragement from the coaches to run," adds Giteau. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>"In the Italian game I didn’t get as much room to run as I would have liked, and that was pretty frustrating. The Welsh game was good as I got that chance to run. But also if I wasn’t running I got a lot more options outside, so that’s the same plan we’ll take this week against Ireland." </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>He’ll be facing a former Super 12 opponent in Isaac Boss on Sunday. They faced each other when Giteau’s Brumbies played Boss’ Waikato Chiefs, but they weren’t direct opponents as the Wallaby lined out in the centre. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>However, Giteau, despite admiring Boss, expressed surprise at Peter Stringer’s demotion to the bench for this test. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>"He (Boss) must be playing really well to move Peter Stringer out of the half back position. I’m very surprised," said Giteau. "I’m not sure what’s going on there with the selection process. Isaac Boss is obviously a good player as well. He has played in the Super 12 so I know a little bit about him. </DIV>
          <DIV =TailParas>"Stringer is a very good player but taking nothing away from Isaac,
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            #6


            Hickie wings in to answer O’Sullivan’s Ireland call
            <DIV =LeadPara>DENIS HICKIE’S experience this week shows how a player can be one injury away from an international cap. </DIV>
            <DIV =LeadPara>The Ireland and Leinster winger was due to appear for Ireland A against Australia A in Limerick last Wednesday night and was hoping a good performance might help him leap-frog Andrew Trimble into the full Irish squad. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>However, he was hauled out of the A camp after Trimble suffered a hamstring strain during Ireland’s win over South Africa last week, and wins his 52nd cap against Australia on Sunday. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>"That’s just the way things happen," said Hickie, "One minute you’re not playing, then you’re back in. Injuries have gone against me in the past; this time it has worked in my favour." </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>Despite Ireland’s record win over South Africa last week, there were those who felt the Springboks were not quite up to scratch — hence some diluted praise for the Irish performance. Hickie doesn’t agree: "I thought it was a very good Ireland display. A lot of the work we have been doing in training came off on the pitch. The guys mixed the game up very well; they kept South Africa guessing by varying things and we finished strongly as well. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>"Overall, that was a pretty polished performance, particularly when you consider it was the first game of the season against a country with a pretty daunting record at international level. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>"You can only play what’s put in front of you; if South Africa played better, the scoreline might have changed, but the fact is Ireland played well enough to win the game. It came because of the way the game plan was applied. That was determined by Ireland. The guys executed a game plan, made a few mistakes but played well enough to win, and win as comfortably as they did." </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>Australia will be a different challenge. Hickie praised the Wallabies for what they have achieved in world rugby over recent decades. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>"They’ve been pioneers. They have very skilful players, guys who can play in a lot of different positions; they play the game with a lot of pace, and I’m always interested in what they’re going to do. They always seem to have a different approach to whatever the norm is in the game at the time. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>"This Australian team doesn’t appear to be much different; they have guys playing out of their normal positions, they’re trying things out with the World Cup in mind." </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>The Leinster star sees this as an intriguing challenge for Ireland. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>"Every week is different, but I suppose it’s fair to say that it was easier to read the way South Africa were likely to play. That’s the challenge for us." </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>Pointing back to Ireland’s summer tour, Hickie admitted the test against Australia in Perth was the biggest disappointment of the three games on the trip. He said: "They certainly pulled away from us in the second half, but they’re always capable of doing that. They keep attacking, keep plugging away trying to break you down." </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>He has no doubts but that the Ulster players Isaac Boss and Bryan Young can make a huge impact for Ireland. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>He said: "In ways, Ulster have been the form team in Ireland this season, and both of the guys have been playing very well. I expect them to bring that form to the Irish team, and they will bring something different to the team. </DIV>
            <DIV =TailParas>"They have been in the squad for a while, t
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              #7


              Connolly suffering selection headache
              <DIV =LeadPara>Australia head coach John Connolly admitted choosing his most potent backline is proving troublesome after naming another revamped team for Sunday’s clash with Ireland. </DIV>
              <DIV =LeadPara>Tour skipper Stirling Mortlock has been shifted to inside centre after taking the number 13 jersey on his comeback from knee surgery in last weekend’s 25-18 victory over Italy. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>Lote Tuqiri returns to outside centre, the position he filled for the 29-29 draw with Wales before being switched to the wing in Rome, with Stephen Larkham reverting to his preferred fly-half role. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>Mark Gerrard fills the vacancy at wing while Mat Rogers drops to the substitutes bench as Australia continue to field a different three-quarter line for each match of their European tour. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>It could be a risky move, especially as the untested partnership of Mortlock and Tuqiri will be facing in-form Ireland centres Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy – a fact acknowledged by Connolly. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"It will be a good challenge for our centres to face O’Driscoll and D’Arcy," he said. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"We’ve been looking for the right combinations and it has been difficult. But we’re confident of Stirling's ability to adapt to inside centre. He can play the ball as well as attack it." </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>Larkham has acquitted himself well in the number 12 jersey but will be grateful for his restoration at fly-half at the expense of Rogers, who endured a poor afternoon in Rome. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>However, Wallabies attack coach Scott Johnson has warned Larkham he may soon be on the move once again. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"Larkham is an intelligent kid – he’s been around the block – but this is not the end of the experiment at fly-half," said Johnson. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"We’re still trying to find the answers. I think Larkham has progressed again, even though he thinks he has been played out of position for the last few games." </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>Matt Giteau’s re-conversion to scrum-half continues with the Western Force 24-year-old raising an eyebrow at the identity of his opposite number on Sunday. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>Ireland have given a full Test debut to New Zealand-born Isaac Boss and Giteau has questioned the decision to select the Ulster half-back over veteran Peter Stringer. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"I was very surprised by the decision to leave Stringer out. I don’t know what’s going on in the selection process," he said. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"Stringer’s combination with Ronan O’Gara is outstanding. It was a big call." </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>Australia emerged easy 37-15 winners from their last meeting with Ireland in June but Connolly is expecting Sunday’s Lansdowne Road collision to be a far tighter affair. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"Ireland are in better shape than when we played them in Perth during the summer," said. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"They’re at the top of their game. Over the past 15 years, depth has been a problem but now they have solved that. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>"This as good an Irish team as I’ve seen. They are probably the most experienced Test side in rugby and they have world-class players all over the pitch." </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>The only change Connolly has made in the pack sees Phil Waugh return at openside flanker in place of George Smith, who drops to the bench. </DIV>
              <DIV =TailParas>© Irish Examiner, 2006. Thomas Crosbie Media, TCH </D
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              Comment


                #8


                The agony of rugby's `forgotten man'
                <DIV =LeadPara>AUSTRALIAN rugby's forgotten star Peter Hewat has revealed his angst at sitting home watching the Wallabies struggle to find the winning backline combination on their current European tour. </DIV>
                <DIV =LeadPara>Despite his continued record-breaking feats during the Super 14, the Waratahs ace never appeared to be on the national selectors' radar. </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>"There are words I probably shouldn't use that I'd like to say, it's very hard," Hewat admitted. "To be truthful it is very frustrating that you can't even get an opportunity when they pick 37 guys." </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>While statistics show that Hewat made a higher percentage of tackles than the other Super 14 fullbacks, he believes he is the victim of a perception that is very hard to change. </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>"Whereas someone else can miss a tackle and not get noted, if I find if I miss something it's `there you go again'," he said. </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>Some critics have also questioned his pace. </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>"It's no use being a super quick human on the wing if you don't know what you are doing," he said. </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>"To me, I think you just have to be as quick between the ears as you do with your feet." </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>Despite the setbacks, Hewat will not abandon his World Cup dreams. </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>"They say Super 14 is a selection criteria for Test football and without sounding arrogant I have ticked most boxes there," he said. </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>Copyright 2006 News Ltd. All Rights Reserved </DIV>
                <DIV =TailParas>Daily Telegraph</DIV>
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                Comment


                  #9


                  FRom Planet rugby
                  <H2>Preview - Ireland v Australia</H2>
                  <DIV =storydate>Friday November 17 2006</DIV>


                  'Monster midfield' may be just a minnow


                  Rugby remains a game in which the basics have to be performed adequately before any team can think about the fancy stuff - such as how to outwit the opposition out wide. A team still has to win the ball first, because without the ball you can't score.



                  <DIV =inlineads>

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                  It is that simple. And that basic principle will apply to the encounter between Ireland and Australia at Lansdowne Road in Dublin on Sunday.


                  A lot has been made of the "monster midfield" of the Wallabies, Lote Tuqiri and Stirling Mortlock, which will face up to Ireland's world class duo of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy.


                  Wallaby coach John Connolly was rather coy about the reason for selecting one of the biggest midfield pairings in recent memory - the 103kg flyer Tuqiri and Mortlock, himself weighing in at 100kg, despite the latter having never before started a Test at No.12.


                  Connolly said that the selection of a new centre pairing was not necessarily aimed at countering the talented Irish pair of O'Driscoll and D'Arcy.


                  "It was something we wanted to try at some stage and felt that this Test was a good opportunity to have a look at Stirling and Lote in the centres," said Connolly.


                  Regardless of the motivation, the Wallabies' massive midfield - and in fact their entire, enormously talented, backline - will be rendered useless if they don't get enough quality possession.


                  And here is where the Wallabies have a problem.


                  It is a huge problem and it has been around for years. It has not been solved and it was again very evident during their disappointing performance in edging Italy 25-18 in Rome last week.


                  The Wallaby pack was made to look very ordinary, admittedly by a good set of Italian forwards. But the Wallabies were destroyed in the scrums and without Dan Vickerman their line-outs also did not look so assured.


                  This is a point that has come up for discussion again this past week, with former World Cup-winning captain Nick Farr-Jones getting in on the act. He went as far as saying that the poor quality of Australia's forward play will cost them any chance of winning next year's Rugby World Cup.


                  According to Farr-Jones Australia have backline talent to burn, but the weakness of the Wallaby forward pack was too great an obstacle to overcome in the short term.


                  "I said two years ago that I didn't think we had time to catch up for the World Cup," said Farr-Jones, a former scrum-half who led Australia to World Cup victory in 1991.


                  "After the domestic leg of the Tri-Nations I thought we were getting there and we could, but I've got to say I'm scratching my head whether we can get there in 10 months' time.


                  "If you look at the history of the World Cup, every team that's won it has had a dominant pack and I can't see us having a dominant pack."


                  While Farr-Jones' remarks were made as he looked ahead to the World Cup, they are just as applicable to Sunday's encounter with the Irish.


                  As the men from the Emerald Isle showed last week against South Africa, they can mix it with the best up front.


                  And as we all know, the Wallabies are not amongst the best.


                  That means you would expect the Irish pack to be dominant, even in the scrums - which is a supposed Irish weakness, but wasn't very evident last week.


                  And, as Farr-Jones said, Australia's backs - not matter how talented or brutally big they are - could not entirely make up for a lack of strength up front.


                  "It's the key area," he said.


                  "If you can't win reasonable possession, it's very hard, irrespective of how good your backline is, to be able to function effect
                  The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad.
                  - Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    <DIV ="storyLayout">
                    <H2>O'Sullivan looking for lucky omen</H2>
                    <DIV ="storydate">Wednesday November 15 2006</DIV>'You never know what is going to happen against Australia'


                    Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan predicts the battle of wills fought on the sidelines will settle his side's collision with Australia at Lansdowne Road on Sunday. <!-
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                    O'Sullivan promoted Isaac Boss, Bryan Young, Geordan Murphy and Denis Hickie to the starting line-up as Ireland target successive victories over major southern opposition for only the second time.


                    The Triple Crown winners dispatched South Africa 32-15 last Saturday but are braced for a more challenging test of their growing stock in Test rugby against the Wallabies.


                    With two dazzling backlines and similar sized packs, O'Sullivan claims the sides are so evenly matched the outcome will be decided by his coaching duel with opposite number John Connolly.


                    "We've lost our last four games on the bounce against Australia so the omens aren't good for beating them," O'Sullivan said.


                    "Against Australia you don't know what is going to happen. It's a very tactical game and I enjoy that in the sense that there's a lot of coaching to be done on the day.


                    "You have to adjust the game-plan around what's happening in front of you. You have to have an open mind over where to attack.


                    "If you get it right you'll win, if you don't you won't - it's as simple as that.


                    "We're pretty evenly matched in all departments. Australia aren't much bigger than us and they don't have an advantage in speed.


                    "They're a very skilful team which is tactically well aware and the game will be won on tactics."


                    O'Sullivan insisted the selection of Ulster scrum-half Boss, who will make his full Test debut with Peter Stringer dropping to the bench, would enhance his side's attacking options.


                    "Isaac is a more robust player than Stringer in some ways. He's more aggressive around the fringes. He likes to run and take on the back row in scrums and is a threat,"the Ireland coachsaid.


                    "It took him a while to settle at Ulster but this season he has been very effective. He's fought his way in on form.


                    "The team won't change the game-plan because we have a new half-back. There's not that much difference between him and Peter."


                    Boss was born in New Zealand and represented the All Blacks at under-19 level but qualifies for Ireland through a maternal grandmother.


                    The 26-year-old former Hurricanes half-back, who will win his fourth cap on Sunday, said: "I'm delighted that I was in the 22 last week and to get the start this week is brilliant.


                    "I can't wait for Sunday to come. Hopefully I'll put in a good performance. The squad is very confident after beating South Africa but we're not getting above ourselves.


                    "We know we can play well in areas and we'll have to lift our game for Australia.


                    "I know a lot about them from playing Super 12 rugby and hopefully we can stem the tide of their attacks. They're pretty good when they have the ball in hand."


                    Boss' Ulster team-mate Young will also make his full debut following three substitute appearances, with Marcus Horan dropping down to the bench.


                    Girvan Dempsey has been replaced by Murphy at full-back while Hickie comes in for Andrew Trimble who is still troubled by a recurring hamstring problem.


                    "Andrew got a really bad knock on the summer tour over his knee. He had quite a bit of bruising and spent a lot of time rehabbing it," said O'Sullivan.


                    "His pre-season in terms of building power in his legs was truncated. He isn't completely up to where he needs to be in that respect. The spin off is that he's fatiguing in games.


                    "The hamstring isn't damaged, it's fatiguing. It gets tight and sore and if he runs on it there's a chance he'll rupture
                    The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad.
                    - Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

                    Comment


                      #11


                      Todays Indo:


                      O'Sullivan has us on brink of greatness


                      THE public perception of Eddie O'Sullivan the coach is one of conservatism. It is wrong.


                      If the criteria for picking Irish teams is to win Test matches using form as the chief tool to determine selection, then O'Sullivan is guilty as charged.


                      However, it is because of O'Sullivan's pragmatically measured selection policy, and not despite it, that this Irish squad - in my opinion the finest we have ever had - is likely to go ito next year's Six Nations as favourites.


                      We have just defeated the Springboks with ease, justifying the pre-match favourites tag. A week and four changes later, we are facing another southern hemisphere superpower, twice world champions Australia and, once again, we find ourselves ante-post favourite with the bookies, who seldom get it wrong.


                      We all want to see the net widening and the well deepening player-wise but this must evolve in the appropriate environment and that means a winning one.


                      To that end, O'Sullivan has made four changes to a winning combination that has just produced the most complete performance of his coaching tenure.


                      Perfection


                      The first 40 minutes in the Lansdowne wind tunnel was as close as it gets to clinical perfection. Yet, it was the discipline (just three penalties conceded in the second period) and control in continuing to take the game to the 'Boks after the break that made last week's performance so impressive.


                      However, the Australians present a tougher mental and physical challenge than the limited South Africans were able to provide.


                      The Australians have always been innovators on the rugby pitch, even going back to the amateur days, and consistently posed problems beyond the scope of other nations. O'Sullivan and his captain Brian O'Driscoll have reflected this by highlighting Australian on-field cuteness in the pre-match love-in.


                      Bringing Geordan Murphy and Denis Hickie in for Girvan Dempsey and Andrew Trimble is relatively risk-free for O'Sullivan. In the front row, where the Aussies, by their own admission, are still building towards Test credibility, the inclusion of Bryan Young to take on Guy Shepherdson in the Ballymena man's first full start, is also calculated.


                      Only at scrum-half is there a hint of a relative ramble into the unknown and yet, even that is qualified by Matt Giteau's relative inexperience in the Wallaby number nine shirt.


                      The introduction of Isaac Boss for his first full start could open up a whole new dynamic for O'Sullivan and this side.


                      Although the former Wellington player is slightly lighter in build, Boss is a fair imitation of the Byron Kelleher/Piri Weepu type No 9 favoured by the All Blacks and setting the standard for scrum-halves everywhere. Unquestionably, Peter Stringer remains Ireland's number one, with his relationship with Ronan O'Gara almost telepathic.


                      However, O'Sullivan recognises the need for a scrum-half to challenge around the fringes, creating space for the outside backs.


                      John Connolly's selection of Giteau suggests the Australian coach is also aware of the importance of having this quality at nine.


                      It is a simple premise but difficult to crack.


                      O'Sullivan went close on occasion with Guy Easterby but now, based on the form of Ulster's scrum-half this season, Ireland have a credible alternative to Stringer with the robust Boss offering variety if a change of emphasis is needed.


                      Were a World Cup team being picked tomorrow, Stringer would be the automatic selection but Boss certainly has the potential to shake things up.


                      For all the pre-tour talk of experimentation and variety, the Australian 'think tank' of Connolly, Michael Foley and Scott Johnson obviously feel victory is the priority tomorrow in the wake of a
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                      Comment


                        #12


                        Woolly tales lift spirits before Matilda gets spin out in Lansdowne


                        IN ONE respect we prefer the Australians; they've got a sense of humour. The South Africans and the New Zealanders are invariably dour but the Aussies are different, aren't they?


                        Their ancestors stole sheep from our hills of Wicklow, not to mention the Twelve Bens and the Mountains of Mourne and got themselves airlifted to Botany Bay. That was their first big laugh. And we laughed too.


                        Take some of their rugby players, David Campese, who, as has been pointed out, was addicted to the adrenalin rush of mirthful risk-taking.


                        And then there was Mark Ella, one of the greatest outhalves, scoring a try against each of the four countries in the 1984 touring team's Grand Slam. The only thing lopsided about that was his grin.


                        There was the fantastic loop move against England, the support on Campese's outside shoulder at Lansdowne Road, the magical intercept against the Welsh and the inside support pass when the Grand Slam was notched at Murrayfield. But that was enough of the fun and games and Mark, an 'elderly' 25, retired from the international scene.


                        Instead of the Haka the Australians portray the scene - their scene - with 'Waltzing Matilda', the unofficial anthem that was perpetrated on us long before we traversed 'The Fields of Athenry'.


                        It was composed by a certain Bango Paterson whose forte was as a writer of tall tales who lived to 1941 and would have heard his story of the Matilda - the rolled-up blanket - and the billy can being wafted over the football fields of his country.


                        Anyway, isn't it as appropriate to the goings on in rugby as Athenry is to the small free birds flying? And, please for gawd's sake, let's not mention Jerusalem!


                        Then there are the tall Aussie tales, or what has been dubbed the dementia praecox school of writing, a bit like their Irish ancestors.


                        There was, for example, the tale of the sheep shearer, Crooked Mick, who fell into a tank of boiling water. But his mates whipped him out, tore off his clothes, seized two of the sheep, cut their throats, ripped off their hides and rapped them around Crooked Mick, flesh side in. The sheep hides grafted to Mick, couldn't be taken off and the wool grew and they sheered Crooked Mick every year and he made 22lbs of wool the first year.


                        In earlier times rugby league was the big game in Australia. What were called the Games of Origin - you played inter-state stuff for your native place - was the big deal and pretty violent they were, and pre-match publicity emphasised the hard stuff.


                        The rugby union was small then but in more recent decades the union numbers have increased substantially.


                        The World Cup successes and the exploits of Ella, Campese, John Eales, Nick Farr-Jones, Michael Lynagh, Philip Hawthorne and Paul McLean captured the imagination of the sporting public and the game is now most definitely a major one in Australia.


                        Not that they will win back the Ashes now that the man from Bray, Ed Joyce, has joined England out there.


                        Which reminds me that the offer of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin company to sponsor the England rugby team team has been turned down by the RFU. They felt it would be inappropriate with England getting, er, deflowered, every week.


                        Seán Diffley



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                        Comment


                          #13


                          Big match facts and figures


                          4 -
                          Since November 1927, Ireland have played Australia 14 times at Lansdowne Road, with the hosts coming out on top on only four occasions, the last one being 2002. The Dublin clashes of 1958 (9-6), 1967 (15- 8 )and 1968 (10-3) also went down in the record books as Irish victories.





                          3 -
                          The collective number of tries this Irish back line has scored in previous internationals against Australia. Only Brian O'Driscoll (at the 2003 World Cup), Shane Horgan (in last November's Test) and Ronan O'Gara (during last June's tie in Perth) have touched down previously against the Wallabies.





                          4 -
                          The collective number of tries that Australian full-back Chris Latham has scored over the years against Ireland - that is four in five appearances against the men in green. The 2006 IRB Player of the Year nominee breached the Irish try line in June 1999, June 2003, November 2005 and June 2006.





                          50 -
                          The number of caps Shane Horgan will have earned when he starts the match tomorrow afternoon.





                          22 -
                          The amount of tries Ireland have scored so far in the year 2006 from a total of nine games. Both France (February) and South Africa (November) were hit for four tries.





                          23 -
                          The amount of tries Ireland have conceded in their nine games to date in 2006. The Irish conceded six to France in Paris last February, while the Wallabies ran five in at Perth in June.


                          * Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa). Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales), Malcolm Changleng (Scotland). Television match official: Mark Lawrence (South Africa). Assessor: Brian Smith (Ireland).



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                          Comment


                            #14


                            Williams relishing intriguing showdown


                            WHAT Jim Williams really wants for tomorrow's Guinness Autumn international between Ireland and Australia at Lansdowne Road is a decent day.


                            If the weather is alright, the current Munster forwards coach and former Australian international, believes the crowd could be treated to a cracking contest between two outstanding back divisions. In those circumstances, he's not sure who will come out on top.


                            But, if the conditions are bad, Williams has to go for Ireland. "If the weather has anything to do with it, you definitely have to favour Ireland, because of their positional play, and kicking of Ronan O'Gara," he said.


                            "On the other hand, should the day be dry, it's going to be very tight. Whoever can unleash their backs and get good field position, I think, is the one who comes out on top."


                            Williams is in a pretty good position to judge, having spent the last five seasons either playing for or coaching with Munster. His knowledge of Australian rugby goes pretty deep as a member of the 1999 World Cup-winning squad, and the ACT Brumbies 2001 Super 12 winning team.


                            While quite a few of his former Wallaby teammates have now departed the scene, others remain. Key players, like skipper Stirling Mortlock, Chris Latham and Stephen Larkham.


                            Nothing would now suit Williams better than to see the current team make a strong push for next year's World Cup. But first he thinks they must first find more consistency, and opt for a more settled team.


                            "Consistency has been a huge problem and choping and changing doesn't help." he insists. "But the line-up to face Ireland would seem to be a much more settled team. Mortlock at 12 is an interesting choice. At 13 he is a great, strong runner. He seems to have got bigger and leaner as the years have gone by.


                            "He's a fantastic player who can adapt. His clash with Gordon D'Arcy should be fascinating, there's fantastic battles all over the place, especially with those backlines.


                            "It would be great to see the two backlines getting a good share of the ball, and then watch how they go against each other."


                            First though, there is the small matter of the forward battle, how does Williams see that going?


                            "Well, Australia's front-row will be tested. The line-outs should be fairly even, Mark Chisholm is a decent operator, and Nathan Sharpe has always been good. So, Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan have the hands full, and vice versa.


                            "It's going to be a great battle in the back-row. Neil Best and Rocky Elsom are very similar aggressive players at six. My concern with Australia, is all those changes in the front five in the Tri-Nations.


                            "They don't have a lot of depth in the front three, so it's going to be a testing time for them." Fair enough, but Ireland aren't really recognised as possessing one of the most powerful scrums in world rugby.


                            Furthermore, they will have Bryan Young in for his first start at loose-head for Marcus Horan. That change, and the one which sees Isaac Boss coming in for Peter Stringer at scrum-half, are definitely not alterations which many predicted.


                            "Sure, it was a great win last week, both Marcus and Peter played very well, and you want to keep the momentum going. But, at the same time, it's essential that you make those type of changes, especially in the pivotal roles.


                            "If you have an opportunity to get them (Young and Boss) out there in a big game, and see how they go, it makes sense to try it.


                            Disruption


                            "Hopefully, there won't be too much disruption. Young appears to be going well, and Boss is playing some fantastic stuff for Ulster.


                            Neither does Williams argue against Eddie O'Sullivan decision to give Geordan Murphy a run at full-back. "Geordan was a bit off on the tour to the southern hemisphere during the summer, but
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                            Comment


                              #15


                              A taxi driver last night shared the same views as this article with me....As I couldnt care about the made up sport, I dont agree with the sentiment....





                              Revenge for Croker will balance books with the Aussies


                              DO you remember when you got lumps kicked into you by the school bully and you threatened him with your big brother? In my case it never worked because I didn't have a big brother but the Irish GAA team do. And tomorrow we will get our own back on the Aussies.


                              This Irish team fear no one and unlike their GAA counterparts they will be every bit as fit as the Australians.


                              Our GAA stars were about half as tuned as they would be for an All-Ireland final. How else do you explain the fact that there were so many loose Australians going runabout with absolutely no one to put them off their shots with a bit of kickus interruptus?


                              Sometimes the hype obscures the truth. But tomorrow will be different. This team, unlike Seán Boylan's outfit, has had time to prepare. We have adopted the Arthur Guinness strategy. We pull the pint and give it plenty of time to rest. Most of the other teams are worn out from breaking stones at the day job.


                              And when we top the blond in the black skirt we allow even more time for the parts to blend.


                              We have replaced England and the Chariots of Ire as the major European contenders for the World Cup. We are some way ahead of France too if you take a form line through New Zealand. The All Blacks demolished the French in the greatest capitulation since Marie Antoinette said oui to Louis in the back of a Morris Minor. We gave the Kiwis two hard games.


                              But Ireland are no certainties. Eddie O'Sullivan may have erred in leaving out Stringer and Horan for such an important game. I know he's trying to establish competition but feckit we get the chance to beat the Australians very rarely.


                              Last year Eddie was under almost as much pressure as Andy Robinson. Half his team were injured and the other half were carrying injuries, but when the crisis abated we went on to win a Triple Crown.


                              Got a text message which kind of sums it all up. Came from one Ricky Noble PP of Instonians Rugby Club of Belfast. PP for Past President, as you might have guessed. The Mr Le Guin in the text is none other than the manager of Glasgow Rangers. His team are 15 points behind Celtic and have effectively tailed off on the first circuit.


                              Here's Noble's epistle: 'Urgent txt from Vatican for Agent Le Guin. Come home immediately, your mission is completed'.


                              Eddie's mission is far from over but he has only one master to serve and he has no bother with the clubs. He is secure in his job and has the confidence of the players.


                              What's more, the injury management by the Irish back-up team has been little short of brilliant, but you need luck too.


                              Australia are short a few this time. They have their backs playing musical chairs and their scrum always seems to land on the snake's head in Snakes and Ladders.


                              Everyone knows the Australians are as good as anyone, except maybe The Blacks, with ball in hand and they have a strong line-out.


                              We have adopted the Arthur Guinness strategy. We pull the pint and give it plenty of time to restToday we have only two jumpers. You need three to keep them guessing. Leamy is heading rapidly towards becoming one of the best No 8s in the world. We have a mobile and gutsy back row with plenty of footballing ability. One of the three will always be on hand to support our superb backline.


                              This is a team of footballers with hands as soft as a trapeze catcher's. There was a time when if the ball fell from the sky into the arms of a tight five forward he would look at it and wonder if he should boil it or fry it.


                              I doubt if we will see a big bust-up but it will be confrontational at
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