Qantas Wallabies team to play Barbarians named

Qantas Wallabies team to play Barbarians named

Western Force flanker David Pocock will captain the Qantas Wallabies for the first time after being named to lead Australia in Saturday’s match against the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium in London.

The 23-year-old, who is a two-time nominee for the International Rugby Board’s Player of the Year, led the Force for the first time in Super Rugby earlier this year during the Western Australian team’s 27-24 win over the Melbourne Rebels in the final round of this year’s competition . He also led the Australian team at the Under-20 World Cup in Wales in 2008.

The Pocock appointment comes after Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and his fellow selectors opted to start regular skipper James Horwill from the bench, in order to lighten what has been a heavy work load for the 26-year-old through the 2011 season.

Horwill featured in all 18 games of the Queensland Reds’ title-winning season in Super Rugby, and has subsequently sat out just two of the 12 Tests played by the Wallabies in the year to date.

“While he ended the Rugby World Cup with a bit of a shoulder niggle, James is in good nick, given the load that he has carried,” Deans says.

“We just felt that this was a good opportunity, both to lessen the load on James, while also giving David the chance to gain experience captaining the side.”

Deans says that Pocock already has a significant influence in on and off field decision making anyway, as a member of the team’s leadership group. Taking on the captaincy for this match simply offers him an opportunity to broaden his leadership skills, while also providing additional support to Horwill.

The new skipper will be surrounded by the core of the side which beat Wales 21-18 in the Bronze Final at last month’s Rugby World Cup.

One notable positional change sees James O’Connor start at flyhalf for the first time, after previously having appeared on the wing or at fullback.

The move had long been flagged as likely for the talented 21-year-old, with the Wallabies taking the opportunity to move the goal-kicking utility closer to the action in the absence from this tour of Quade Cooper, who has been the regular custodian at 10 this year.

O’Connor will play outside halfback Will Genia, and inside of NSW Waratahs playmaker Berrick Barnes, who will start at inside centre.

Barnes’ NSW Waratahs colleague Rob Horne also gains a starting role, although he completed all but nine minutes of the Bronze medal match in Auckland after replacing an injured Kurtley Beale.

That chance saw Horne slot in at centre, with the versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper moved to fullback, and is a formation that Deans has retained for this weekend’s contest.

Horwill’s relocation aside, the starting forward pack is the same as that which Australia fielded in its most recent Test outing.

The bench does show a slightly different look, with uncapped loose forward Dave Dennis and inside centre Ben Tapuai, both featuring amongst a five-forward, two-back, breakdown amongst the run on substitutes.

While Australia has a good recent record against the Barbarians, the squad has inside knowledge of the motivation the representatives of the festival club will bring to the game, with Ashley-Cooper, O’Connor and Genia all having appeared for the Baabaas during their win over the touring South African side last year.

Ashley-Cooper and Genia were also involved the year before, when the Barbarians beat an All Black side prepared by the men who have been directing operations for the Baabaas this week – All Black coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen.

“It’s an amazing tradition that the Barbarians have. Receiving the opportunity to play for the club on the big stage, in games like the one this weekend, is a huge honour,” Genia says.

“Being able to play in these games for the Baabaas is a privilege – because selection comes by invitation – but it also carries with it a huge responsibility to perform. Make no mistake, this is going to be a tough match.”

The Genia warning is echoed by Deans, who points to Australia’s experience against the Baabaas at Wembley Stadium on the 2008 Spring Tour, where the Wallabies needed a late try to squeeze home 18-11 in a dramatic contest against a star-studded Barbarians cast not dis-similar in quality to the line-up that has been chosen to represent the club on Saturday.

“They’re all proud men,” Deans says of the Barbarians group, “and they will be looking at this match as a great opportunity with no significant downside.

“The Baabaas results against New Zealand and South Africa in the last two years have shown what is possible, and what they can bring to the occasion. They’ve got class players all over the field who will play without fear or inhibition. That is going to make them a very tough outfit to beat.”

The Qantas Wallabies team to play the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium, London on Saturday 26 November (kick-off: 2.35pm local, 1.35am, Sun 27 Nov, AEDST) is:

15. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)

14. Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs)

13. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)

12. Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs)

11. Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds)

10. James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels)

9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)

8. Ben McCalman (Western Force)

7. David Pocock (Western Force, captain)

6. Scott Higginbotham (Queensland Reds)

5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)

4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)

3. Salesi Ma’afu (Brumbies)

2. Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs)

1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)

Run on Reserves:

16. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)

17. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)

18. James Horwill (Queensland Reds)

19. Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs)

20. Matt Hodgson (Western Force)

21. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels)

22. Ben Tapuai (Queensland Reds)

Australia v the Barbarians – Historical Notes

  • This will be the 12th match between Australia and the Barbarians since the foundation game in 1948 at Cardiff Arms Park. The Barbarians won on that occasion, 9-6.
  • Australia has won its last seven matches against the Barbarians, and has won eight of the 11 games that have been played.
  • The most recent match between the sides was at the Sydney Football Stadium in 2009 when the Wallabies beat the Barbarians 55-7 during a rare trip by the famous club to Australia. James O’Connor, David Pocock, James Horwill, Ben Alexander and Stephen Moore were all try-scorers for Australia in that match.
  • The last match between the two sides in the United Kingdom was at Wembley Stadium, London, at the end of the 2008 Spring Tour when the Wallabies beat a star-studded Barbarians combination 18-11. Lachie Turner was a try-scorer for Australia in that match.
  • While Saturday’s match doesn’t carry Test status, it will mark the first occasion that Western Force flanker David Pocock has led the Qantas Wallabies. Pocock previously led the Australian team to the Under-20 World Cup in Wales in 2008, becoming a senior Wallaby for the first time later that same year.
  • Saturday’s match continues the strong association that exists between the Barbarians club and the three Tri-Nations countries of the SANZAR alliance. As well as its record against Australia, the Barbarians have played New Zealand on 10 occasions (for two victories, alongside a draw and seven losses), and South Africa seven times – for four wins and three losses. The Baabaas head into this weekend’s contest having beaten South Africa last year, and New Zealand the year before.
  • All Black coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen will prepare the Barbarians for the first time. The pair won the Rugby World Cup in their home country last month. The 2008 Barbarians team beaten by Australia was prepared by Jake White and Eddie Jones, who had combined to win the Rugby World Cup with South Africa the year before.

Australia v Barbarians Results 1948-2009

1948: Barbarians 9, Australia 6 at Cardiff

1958: Barbarians 11, Australia 6 at Cardiff

1967: Australia 17, Barbarians 11 at Cardiff

1976: Barbarians 19, Australia 7 at Cardiff

1984: Australia 37, Barbarians 30 at Cardiff

1988: Australia 40, Barbarians 22 at Cardiff

1992: Australia 30, Barbarians 20 at Cardiff

1996: Australia 39, Barbarians 12 at London

2001: Australia 49, Barbarians 35 at Cardiff

2008: Australia 18, Barbarians 11 at London

2009: Australia 55, Barbarians 7 at Sydney

About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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