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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Larkham gets inside line on Wales
By Phil Harlow

Stephen Larkham and Scott Johnson
Larkham and Johnson are plotting ways to unlock Wales' defence
Australia's Stephen Larkham says the inside knowledge of former Wales skills coach Scott Johnson may be a key factor when the sides meet at the World Cup.

The Wallabies, with Johnson installed as attack coach, take on Wales on 15 September in Pool B's pivotal match.

"He's got a good insight into how they play," Larkham told BBC Sport.

"They play with a lot of flair and some of that was down to Scott. Now we've got him and they've probably lost a bit and we've gained a bit."


Johnson worked alongside former coach Mike Ruddock, and was seen as a key component in Wales's famous Grand Slam-winning team of 2005.

"We certainly understand where their style of play has come from after working with Scott for so many months. Wales are a team I've got a lot of respect for," added Larkham, who was speaking at the launch of Canterbury's new IonX sportswear.

The 33-year-old, who will bring the curtain down on his glittering international career at the end of the World Cup, said the clash with Wales had dominated their build-up to the tournament.

The fact that the match is being played in Cardiff is a huge factor

Australia's Stephen Larkham

"Pretty much all of our focus was on Wales - no disrespect to Japan, but we have done a lot of work on working out how Wales play," he said.

"Japan was a trial run for the Welsh match and we certainly understand that Wales will be our hardest group match, and providing we get through it then we can start focussing on the quarter-finals.

"We've watched all of Wales's matches recently and basically the game plan that we prepared for Japan will be the one that we go in with against Wales."

Larkham said the prospect of playing Wales at a sell-out Millennium Stadium cast an entirely different complexion on the important clash.

"The fact that the match is being played in Cardiff is a huge factor," he said.

"The World Cup is meant to be in France, but I suppose there are other countries involved. To play Wales at home is a totally different game to playing them away.

"They'll be very difficult to play in Cardiff but there's nothing we can do about (the venue)."

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