Elsom casts giant shadow over Scotland

Andy Robinson's men are under orders to target the multi-talented Australian
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The Independent Online

Rocky was back on the big stage in the west end of Edinburgh yesterday. In his role as Australian captain, Rocky Elsom was leading Robbie Deans' Wallabies through their eve-of-battle paces at the home of Scottish rugby. Scotland and their head coach, Andy Robinson, can brace themselves for another Rocky Hero Show at Murrayfield this afternoon.

The last time Elsom was in town, for the Heineken Cup final in May, he took the occasion by the scruff of the neck, knocking back Leicester players and ambushing line-out ball like a latter day Ned Kelly. He finished with the man of the match award, with chants of "Rocky" reverberating around the arena and with Leinster fans clad in full Rocky Balboa garb dancing in the aisles of the West Stand.

"Yeah, the last time I was here it went pretty well," the multi-talented blindside flanker reflected. "I don't think anybody will be wearing the costumes this weekend. I guess it'll be a different environment."

Murrayfield has become something of a home from home for Elsom. He was a member of the Wallaby XV who prevailed there 44-15 in 2006, extending a winning run against Scotland that stretches back 16 games. It was also at Murrayfield that he announced his arrival on the European club scene with an audacious try against Edinburgh in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup at the start of last season, galloping 25 yards to score. Robinson was Edinburgh's coach at the time – the anguish he displayed in the coaches' box compounded by the fact that he had attempted to sign the one-time Brisbane Broncos Rugby Leaguer before he joined Leinster.

"Rocky has been on fire for the last two years," Robinson said of the 26-year-old. "I'm looking forward to seeing how we knock him over."

Good luck to Robinson's men on that score. Five days before Elsom produced his all-action tour de force in the Heineken Cup final he walked unscathed from a head-on car crash in Dublin. His mission today will be to get his team back on the winning road after Brian O'Driscoll's last-gasp try consigned them to a 20-20 draw at Croke Park – and to maintain a winning streak against the Scots that dates back to July 1982.

Scotland: R Lamont (Toulon); S Lamont (Scarlets), A Grove (Worcester), G Morrison (Glasgow), S Danielli (Ulster); P Godman (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Glasgow, capt); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), M Low (Glasgow), N Hines (Leinster), A Kellock (Glasgow), A Strokosch (Gloucester), J Barclay (Glasgow), J Beattie (Glasgow). Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow), K Traynor (Edinburgh), J White (Clermont Auvergne), R Vernon (Glasgow), M Blair (Edinburgh), C Paterson (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh).

Australia: A Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies); P Hynes (Queensland Reds), D Ioane (Queensland Reds), Q Cooper (Queensland Reds), D Mitchell (NSW Waratahs); M Giteau (Brumbies), W Genia (Queensland Reds); B Robinson (NSW Waratahs), S Moore (Brumbies), B Alexander (Brumbies), J Horwill (Queensland Reds), M Chisholm (Brumbies), R Elsom (Brumbies, capt), G Smith (Brumbies), W Palu (NSW Waratahs). Replacements: T Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs), S Kepu (NSW Waratahs), D Mumm (NSW Waratahs), R Brown (Western Force), L Burgess (NSW Waratahs), R Cross (Western Force), J O'Connor (Western Force).

Referee: R Poite (France).