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banner Friday, 13 July, 2001, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Aussies bite tongue over Larkham
Stephen Larkham is tackled by Keith Wood and Martin Johnson
Larkham has been the subject of Lions' interest
Australia coach Rod MacQueen is refusing to be drawn into a war of words following the Lions' admission that they targeted Stephen Larkham in the second Test.

The Wallaby fly-half has been ruled out of Saturday's third and deciding Test in Sydney because of injury.

He was hit by two late tackles in Melbourne and had to be substituted when the nerves in his right shoulder were so badly damaged he lost all movement in his arm.

Lions defence coach Phil Larder admitted the tourists had identified the ACT Brumbies player for special attention.


I don't think there was any malicious intent
  Lions manager Donal Lenihan

"We're obviously disappointed with some of the things that happened with Steve last week but we've opted not to talk about those at this stage," said MacQueen.

Larkham faces the possibility of surgery if the injury does not sufficiently heal, a measure which could rule him out for the Tri-Nations which starts later this month.

"The more times Steve Larkham is on the floor the better, but there was never anything malicious or unfair about it," said Larder.

His opinion was reiterated by manager Donal Lenihan, who also insisted the tourists had not been unfair.

The former Ireland international admitted Larkham had been hit by two late tackles, but said they were not the sole cause of his injuries.

"To be fair, Stephen Larkham's been carrying an injury into the Test series, so I don't think his injuries can be put down to the Lions series," said Lenihan.

Elton Flatley of Australia in action training
Elton Flatley: Larkham's able understudy
"There was never any preconceived notion by us to go out and try and take Larkham out of the game."

The loss of Larkham is a serious blow to MacQueen's preparations ahead of the crucial clash at a capacity Stadium Australia.

"He's a person that is very deceptive, he looks soft but he keeps on getting up," said MacQueen, who will replace Larkham with Elton Flatley.

"He tops the tackle count in every game, he tops the passing count and in a lot of cases tops the running and space gained."

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