White enlists big guns for Baa-Baas

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A hundred years ago Great Britain, otherwise represented by Cornwall, were defeated 32-3 by Australia in the rugby final of the London Olympics. To celebrate the anniversary, tonight the Wallabies will run out at Wembley where they face, not the Cornish patsies but the Barbarian hordes.

No medals on offer but a payday for the southern hemisphere heavyweights before they return home at the end of a gruelling season. The Baa-Baas are "coached" by Jake White and Eddie Jones, the duo who helped steer South Africa to the World Cup last year, and captained by the Springbok John Smit. He has six of his World Cup colleagues alongside him, including Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha.

"This is one of the better Barbarians sides and Eddie and I are really chuffed to get this group of players together," White said. "It is wonderful not only to be with a lot of the players we coached at the World Cup but with others that we usually only see on the other side of the pitch. Instead of smashing into each other they will be playing together. That is one of the great attractions of the Baa-Baas."

Richie McCaw, fresh, or exhausted, from leading New Zealand on their victorious Grand Slam tour, will make his debut for the Barbarians who are so strong they have the Wales wing Shane Williams on the replacements' bench. In keeping with tradition they also field an uncapped player, Nick Koster, the Western Province loose forward. As this is not a Test – match tickets are available on the night – he will remain uncapped.

The Wallabies are without their captain Stirling Mortlock, Matt Giteau and Nathan Sharpe, who are all hors de combat. Others are rested, including the hooker Stephen Moore. He and Giteau are the only two players who have featured in all 14 of Australia's Tests in 2008.

George Smith takes over the captaincy, Lote Tuqiri returns to the threequarter line following knee surgery and the 18-year-old James O'Connor starts his first match after coming on as a substitute against Italy last month.

Barbarians: P Montgomery (South Africa); J Rokocoko (NZ), R Gear (NZ), J de Villiers (SA), B Habana (SA); F Steyn (SA), F du Preez (SA); F Pucciariello (It), J Smit (SA, capt), C Johnson (Samoa), B Botha (SA), J Muller (SA), J Collins (NZ), R McCaw (NZ), S Burger (SA). Replacements: M Regan (Eng), R Blake (Aus), C Jack (NZ), N Koster (SA, uncapped), G Gregan (Aus), O Smith (Eng), S Williams (Wal).

Australia: J O'Connor (Western Force); L Tuqiri (Waratahs), R Cross (Western Force), A Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies), D Ioane (Queensland Reds); Q Cooper (Queensland Reds), B Sheehan (Waratahs); S Kepu (Waratahs), T Polota-Nau (Waratahs), M Dunning (Waratahs), M Chisholm (Brumbies), H McMeniman (Queensland Reds), D Mumm (Waratahs), G Smith (Brumbies, capt), R Brown (W Force). Replacements: A Freier (Waratahs), B Alexander (Brumbies), P Kimlin (Brumbies), D Pocock (Western Force), L Burgess (Waratahs), L Turner (Waratahs), D Mitchell (Western Force).