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Wallabies wallow in Scottish mud

Australian star Matt Giteau
Giteau is among the superstars of modern rugby

By Jim Mason, BBC Scotland rugby reporter

The pulse quickens when the big boys of world rugby come to town.

This weekend Australia take on Scotland at Murrayfield and the men in green and gold will start as overwhelming favourites.

Scotland have made a good start to life under Andy Robinson winning 23-10 against Fiji in the first game under the Englishman's tenure. However, even the most optimistic Scottish fan will find it hard to forecast a home win with any degree of conviction.

Australia have made only one change to the side which drew 20-20 with Ireland at the weekend. The veteran George Smith comes in at flanker to join a list of names which those au fait with rugby will recognise as some of the leading lights in the fifteen-man game.

I guess we can be classed as a very all-round team

George Smith

Matt Giteau, Rocky Elsom and Quade Cooper are all individuals who the humble fan views with great respect and, if you're a Scot, a degree of trepidation.

While for us in Scotland it's an autumn Test series, for the Wallabies it's their spring tour. The only problem for Giteau et al is that the Scottish weather is no respecter of seasonal niceties.

At the Australian training session on Thursday it poured. I'm not sure if there is a word in Strine (Australian slang) which corresponds to glaur, but by the time training was over the men from the southern hemisphere were well acquainted with good old-fashioned Scottish mud.

Typically though. while the cameras rolled, the Wallabies larked about and enjoyed their wallowing.

The team announcement was made at lunchtime at the Balmoral Hotel. While the stereotypical Aussie fan is renowned for being uber-confident when it comes to the outcome of matches, the media gathering was a strangely understated affair.

There was a quiet resolve about the four members of the touring party on press conference duty that day... Entirely businesslike.

You can't fail to be impressed by the way in which players such as Giteau and Smith go about their business both on and off the pitch.

They have both played numerous times against Scotland and they were in diplomatic mode when describing Scotland as one of they teams they look forward to playing.

The cynical may say that is because they are on a 16-game unbeaten run against the Scots.

I like the way the Scottish play, they play quite a physical game, but they always play quite fair

Matt Giteau

So, what do you learn as a rugby reporter from a brush with the greats of Australian rugby on a wet November day in Edinburgh? Not much really!

These days, no-one gives much away. Both teams know this will be a tough game.

Australia are fantastic when it comes to the breakdown and frighteningly clinical in the way they recycle ball.

Robinson's men showed that they have some steel in their defence and can attack from any position.

What you do get from Giteau and Smith is an overriding sense of professionalism. They know their own game and they know their opponents. Simple fact. No arguments.

The bookies have made the Australians odds on to win the game on Saturday. They may well do so.

However, talking to these megastars of the game there seems to be an appreciation that Scotland are a team well worthy of respect. Whether respect is all the Scots win on Saturday is another matter.



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see also
Australia recall Smith for Scots
19 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Scots can beat Australia - Godman
18 Nov 09 |  Scottish
Scots unchanged for Aussie clash
17 Nov 09 |  Scottish


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