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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Larkham wins plaudits
Stephen Larkham
Larkham cut the Romanian defence to shreds
Australia fly-half Stephen Larkham is approaching the form which was instrumental in Australia's World Cup triumph four years ago, according to George Gregan.

Larkham was in his element in his country's victory over Romania as he constantly probed for breaks against a brittle defence.

He crossed for two of Australia's 13 tries in a 90-8 victory and was instrumental in many more.

"This is the best I've seen him training. The more I see him doing extras the better I know he's going to play," Gregan said of Larkham.

The pair, half-back partners when Australia won the World Cup in 1999 and at Super 12 level with the ACT Brumbies, are key to Wallaby prospects.

And skipper Gregan, who was far from impressed by England's "error prone" efforts against South Africa, is confident Larkham can carry his form through the tournament.

"He is probably one of the most analysed players around and a lot of teams put a certain plan in place for him," Gregan added.

"But present him with the right sort of opportunities, such as quick ball against a team that is stretched, and he is very hard to tackle and defend."

Rugby league World Cup winner Mat Rogers, who crossed for a hat-trick against Romania, also hailed Larkham's contribution.

"As a backline we ran lines the way we should, regardless of who is in front of us," the full-back said.

Stirling Mortlock
Competition is fierce and it is difficult to get in the starting XV
Stirling Mortlock
"The inside backs are playing some great football, which is making it easier for the outside backs.

"I know it was Romania and we ran up a big score. It all looks rosy but you have got to get the fundamentals right, which we did.

"Hopefully we can take that into the tougher matches later in the competition."

Gregan was also impressed by the return to action of another of his Brumbie team-mates, Stirling Mortlock.

Mortlock had been sidelined for more than six months after shoulder surgery.

"He was really good considering he had not played for us since Italy last autumn. His footwork was outstanding and he deservedly got a try," said the Australian captain.





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