Aussie wrap (Fri)

Keo.co.za brings you the latest news from Australia’s year-end tour.

Smith raring to go

Wallabies flanker George Smith has a bit of a French connection and is looking forward to Saturday’s encounter in Paris.

Born on Bastille Day and having made his Test debut the last time the Wallabies beat France on home soil back in 2000, this weekend’s game is extra special for the veteran.

“Yeah, I’ve got that French connection there, a nice little connection, so I’ve always enjoyed playing against France,” said Smith.

Since then, Smith has had a rough time in France in recent years with Australia finishing on the wrong side of the scoreboard in their last three visits.

“The feeling after losing that game in 2004 … the boys weren’t feeling too good. But it’s more about this team rather than what’s happened in the past.

“Obviously you recognise what’s happened, but the French are always a different team when you do play them on home soil.

“I guess they feed off the energy of the crowd. In Paris, they always have very parochial crowds in that they’re vocal and they always support their team in tough circumstances.

“So it’s going to be a tough game for us and for us to back up after the English Test (victory last Saturday) is crucial.

“It would be a nice reward for the guys who have trained so hard on this tour so far. To play well against the French and beat them in Paris would be great.”

French slam Wallabies tour threat

France coach Marc Lievremont has hit out at Australian rugby officials for threatening to cancel future European tours.

Australia have criticised European sides, France in particular, for sending weakened squads to the southern hemisphere for the June Test window, but Lievremont believes the criticism is unjustified.

“We certainly did not appreciate the condescending attitude shown by their media, public opinion and their officials who threatened to boycott all tours of France,” said Lievremont.

“We all know that this country [Australia], a great rugby-playing nation, is under threat domestically from rugby league, Australian Rules and even football.

“We all know that economically they need Europe, so those trying to give us lessons would be better served lending us their respect because they know that we had a young team and despite all that they tried as hard as they could and put on a show.”

More to follow …