Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Barbarians v Australia (Wed)

Venue: Wembley Stadium
Date: Wednesday, 3 December
Kick-off: 2000 GMT

Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger and Richie McCaw are among the leading lights in a star-studded Barbarians team to face Australia at Wembley on Wednesday.
The trio are joined by the likes of World Cup-winning captain John Smit, his Springboks team-mate Bakkies Botha and New Zealand winger Joe Rokocoko.
Teenage full-back James O'Connor and scrum-half Brett Sheehan start for a largely experimental Wallabies side.

Uncapped lock Peter Kimlin comes in and George Smith takes over as captain.
Smith will lead the team in place of Stirling Mortlock, who joined a heavy casualty list that includes Matt Giteau and Nathan Sharpe after Australia's 21-18 loss to Wales on Saturday. wales winger Shane Williams, the world player of the year who scored a try against Australia in the win last weekend, has been named on the replacements' bench for the Barbarians.

Former England stars Ollie Smith and Mark Regan are also on the bench. In addition to Habana, Burger, Smit and Botha, the strong Springbok presence sees scrum-half Fourie du Preez, centre Jean de Villiers, lock Johann Muller, full-back Percy Montgomery and fly-half Francois Steyn all starting the game. Jake White will coach the side, along with Eddie Jones, reuniting the coaching partnership that helped South Africa win the World Cup last year.

"This is one of the better Barbarians side there has been for a while and Eddie and I are really chuffed to get this group of players together," said White."It has been nice for me to be with the (players I coached at the World Cup) but it has also been nice to coach players like Richie McCaw and Joe Rokocoko. It is nice to see the players who usually smash into each other having an opportunity to play as a team and that is something unique in rugby. the important thing is that a number of these players haven't played for the Baa-Baas and I think it is wonderful they get the opportunity to play alongside such great players. A guy like Sean Fitzpatrick was a great captain of New Zealand but never got the chance to play for the Barbarians and I am sure he would have loved to play in a team like this."

Veteran Australia scrum-half George Gregan, Test rugby's most capped player, is on the bench alongside Western Province forward Nick Koster, who maintains the Barbarians tradition of picking an uncapped player.

The game is part of the British Olympic Association's centenary celebrations of the 1908 London Games. Australia won the rugby gold medal at those Games with a 32-3 victory over Great Britain, who were represented by Cornwall.
Wednesday's game will be the first rugby union match to be played at the rebuilt Wembley, and the first at the stadium since Wales' thrilling last-gasp 32-31 win over England in 1999.

Barbarians team: Percy Montgomery (SA); Joe Rokocoko (NZ), Rico Gear (NZ), Jean de Villiers (SA), Bryan Habana (SA); Francois Steyn (SA), Fourie du Preez (SA); Federico Pucciariello (Ita), John Smit (SA, capt), Census Johnson (Samoa), Bakkies Botha (SA), Johann Muller (SA), Jerry Collins (NZ), Richie McCaw (NZ), Schalk Burger (SA).
Replacements: Mark Regan (Eng), Rodney Blake (Aus), Chris Jack (NZ), Nick Koster (SA, uncapped), George Gregan (Aus), Ollie Smith (Eng), Shane Williams (Wal).

Australia team: James O'Connor; Lote Tuqiri, Ryan Cross, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Digby Ioane; Quade Cooper, Brett Sheehan; Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Matt Dunning, Mark Chisholm, Hugh McMeniman, Dean Mumm, George Smith (capt), Richard Brown.
Replacements: Adam Freier, Ben Alexander, Peter Kimlin, David Pocock, Luke Burgess, Lachie Turner, Drew Mitchell.

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