12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
'LATHO' HAS NO REGRETS: "It was a very close call. I even had a passport for my young daughter to travel, but I have no regrets now." The words of Australian full-back Chris Latham in reply to a question about his decision to turn down a move to Munster in 2003.
Despite exchanging a verbal agreement with then Munster coach Alan Gaffney and signing a letter of intent, Latham turned his back on life in Ireland and stuck with the Queensland Reds - much to Gaffney's annoyance.
With speculation rife that their number 15 was about to jump ship, the Queensland supporters even renamed the famous XXXX Hill at their Ballymore base, the "Don't Go Latho" Hill in a bid to coax their man to stay. They need not have worried - Latham stayed, regained his place in Eddie Jones' Wallabies side and the rest is history.
Now 31, Latham is still a Red and seems to be getting better with age. He picked up the John Eales Medal, the award for the Australian player voted best and fairest by his peers, in September, becoming the first back to be bestowed with the accolade. He scored five tries in 13 Tests between the Aussies' 'spring' tour and Tri-Nations campaign.
SEPTEMBER START FOR 2011 WORLD CUP: While every rugby nation's focus is currently on the 2007 Rugby World Cup, which is just ten months away, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) are already busily preparing for the 2011 tournament.
So much so that the NZRU issued statement on Friday confirming that the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand will take place in September and October of that year. The exact dates of the tournament have not yet been decided upon.
New Zealand 2011 Ltd. chairman Jock Hobbs, who is in Dublin for an IRB Council meeting, said: "We are committed to staging the best Rugby World Cup possible. The confirmation of the tournament timing is ideal for us in terms of weather considerations and the opportunities to showcase New Zealand at that time of the year."
The sixth World Cup gets underway in France on September 7 next, when the hosts take on Argentina in Paris.
...Ireland out-half Ronan O'Gara sliding over for a try against Australia last June, despite the best efforts of Mark Gerrard, Mark Chisolm and George Smith...
SAY WHAT?: "It's no secret that we are used to training in nice weather and on nice fields, hard fields. And looking at the weather forecast for this weekend, it's going to be the opposite. I guess that's going to make it a little bit tougher."
- Wallaby full-back Chris Latham failed to take the weather with him from Down Under
"He's not the finished article because he hasn't got the experience. But from what I've seen of him he's got the capability to be an exceptional international half-back.
"He's got very good composure on the ball. His distribution skills are excellent. He's got a very good kicking game. He's always alert and he threatens on the fringes all the time. And that's the kind of package you want at this level. Funny enough, when I first saw him selected at nine, I knew he'd kick off well there."
- Eddie O'Sullivan's crystal ball is working its magic again. The Irish coach giving his thoughts on Australia's Matt Giteau as a number 9
"I may have been brought up in an invincible All Blacks era when we knew all their names by heart, but I was also well aware of my Irish heroes - Simon Geoghegan, Brendan Mullin, Nick Popplewell and the others."
- Tokoroa-born scrum half Isaac Boss, who will make his first start for Ireland this weekend, offers an insight into his formative years, during which he got up early in the morning to watch Ireland's Five Nations matches
NUMBERS GAME: 4 - Since November 1927, Ireland have played Australia 14 times at Lansdowne Road, with the hosts coming out on top on only four occasions, the last one being 2002. The Dublin clashes of 1958 (9-6), 1967 (15-8) and 1968 (10-3) also went down in the record books as Irish victories.
3 - The collective number of tries the Irish back line, selected for Sunday, has scored in previous internationals against Australia. Only Brian O'Driscoll (at the 2003 World Cup), Shane Horgan (in last November's Test) and Ronan O'Gara (during last June's tie in Perth) have touched down previously against the Wallabies.
4 - The collective number of tries that Australian full-back Chris Latham has scored over the years against Ireland - that is four in five appearances against the men in green! The 2006 IRB Player of the Year nominee, who has scored a total of 34 tries in 70 Tests, breached the Irish try line in June 1999, June 2003, November 2005 and June 2006.
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