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...Chris Latham congratulates George Gregan on scoring a try in Australia's 37-15 victory over Ireland in Perth last June...

'LATHO' HAS NO REGRETS: "It was avery 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 ChrisLatham in reply to a question about his decision to turn down a move toMunster in 2003.

Despite exchanging a verbal agreement with then Munster coach AlanGaffney and signing a letter of intent, Latham turned his back on life in Ireland and stuck with theQueensland Reds - much to Gaffney's annoyance.

With speculation rife that their number 15 was about to jump ship, theQueensland 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 everyrugby nation's focus is currently on the 2007 Rugby World Cup, which is just tenmonths away, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) are already busilypreparing for the 2011 tournament.

So much so that the NZRU issued statement on Friday confirming thatthe 2011 World Cup in New Zealand will take place in September andOctober 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 IRBCouncil meeting, said: "We are committed to staging the best RugbyWorld Cup possible. The confirmation of the tournament timing is idealfor us in terms of weather considerations and the opportunities toshowcase 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 nosecret that we are used to training in nice weather and on nice fields, hardfields. And looking at the weather forecast for this weekend, it'sgoing to be the opposite. I guess that's going to make it a little bittougher."

- 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 anexceptional international half-back.

"He's got very good composure on the ball. His distribution skills areexcellent. He's got a very good kicking game. He's always alert and hethreatens on the fringes all the time. And that's the kind of packageyou want at this level. Funny enough, when I first saw him selected atnine, I knew he'd kick off well there."

- Eddie O'Sullivan's crystal ball is working its magic again. The Irishcoach 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 weknew 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 forIreland this weekend, offers an insight into his formative years,during which he got up early in the morning to watch Ireland's FiveNations matches

NUMBERS GAME: 4 - SinceNovember 1927, Ireland have played Australia 14 times at LansdowneRoad, with the hosts coming out on top on only four occasions, the lastone 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 forSunday, has scored in previous internationals against Australia. OnlyBrian O'Driscoll (at the 2003 World Cup), Shane Horgan (in lastNovember'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 ChrisLatham has scored over the years against Ireland - that is four in fiveappearances against the men in green! The 2006 IRB Player of the Yearnominee, who has scored a total of 34 tries in 70 Tests, breached theIrish try line in June 1999, June 2003, November 2005 and June 2006.

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20 June 2018
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