Rugby Union: Lynagh to chart his own course

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The Independent Online
AS SOON as Nick Farr-Jones went into retirement, Michael Lynagh's accession to the captaincy of Australia became a formality. After four years as vice- captain, international rugby's most prolific points-scorer - 760 points in 59 Tests - was yesterday chosen to lead the World Cup holders on their 13-match tour of Ireland and Wales.

Farr-Jones has been such a class act since becoming captain in 1988 that he will be impossible for Lynagh to follow in the same style. But after being Farr-Jones's half- back partner in 43 Tests, Lynagh is more aware than anyone of his old scrum-half's uncanny awareness in his tactical direction of all his team-mates. The hooker Phil Kearns becomes vice-captain.

The Wallabies have had an unprecedented period of success under Farr-Jones but Lynagh says that the new era requires that he be his own man from the start. 'I was disappointed in 1988 when Nick got the job ahead of me,' he said yesterday. 'It's a big responsibility to accept. I will not be trying to copy what Nick did; I'll try to do what I think is best.'

The new captain, 28, has three newcomers to Wallaby squads along with a further handful of uncapped players. The scrum-half filling the vacancy is Farr-Jones's New South Wales deputy Anthony Ekert, though the Test place will now undoubtedly pass to Peter Slattery; the wing Damien Smith and the flanker Michael Brial also appear for the first time.

Lynagh's party will leave Sydney on 9 October and have their first game against Leinster eight days later. Twelve of the team who won the World Cup last November are still available, including the reluctant David Campese.

Rugby's supreme entertainer consistently complains about the amount of Tests he has to play and those against the Irish and Welsh will make eight for the Wallabies in five months. But Campese has a television contract which means there is no escape for him and something to look forward to for the rest of us.

AUSTRALIA TOUR PARTY: Full-backs: T Kelaher, M Roebuck (New South Wales); Wings: D Campese (NSW), P Carozza (Queensland), D Junee (NSW), D Smith (Queensland). Centres: A Herbert, T Horan, J Little (Queensland), R Tombs (NSW). Outside-halves: P Kahl, M Lynagh (Queensland, capt); Scrum-halves: A Ekert (NSW), P Slattery (Queensland).

Props: A Daly (NSW), C Lillicrap, D Crowley (Queensland), E McKenzie (NSW). Hookers: P Kearns (NSW), D Nucifora (Queensland). Locks: J Eales, R McCall, G Morgan (Queensland), W Waugh (NSW). Flankers: M Brial (NSW), T Coker (Queensland), V Ofahengaue (NSW), D Wilson (Queensland). No 8s: T Gavin (NSW), S Scott- Young (Queensland).

ITINERARY: 17 October Leinster (Dublin); 21 Munster (Cork); 24 Ulster (Belfast); 27 Connacht (Galway); 31 IRELAND (Dublin); 4 November Swansea; 7 Wales B (Cardiff); 11 Neath; 14 Llanelli; 17 Welsh Students (Bridgend); 21 WALES (Cardiff); 24 Monmouthshire (Ebbw Vale); 28 Barbarians (Twickenham).