10 Dec, 10:30
The IRFU and Munster are pleased to announce that Conor Murray has signed a new two-year contract with the IRFU which will see him remain at Munster until at least June 2016.
The mini-marvel will earn his 102nd cap for Australia on the day when Australia have the opportunity to win the Tri Nations and nail down the top spot in the IRB World Rankings for the first time since they were introduced.
He will break the current record shared by himself and David Campese on the same day that Matt Burke will make his last appearance for Australia, before joining up with the Newcastle Falcons.
In the process, Gregan will become the third most capped player in the history of the game behind Jason Leonard (114) and Phillippe Sella (111). But the likelihood is that he will eclipse both as he intends to be around for the 2007 World Cup.
The build-up to the game has featured some monumental sledging, even by Southern Hemisphere standards. Jones kicked it off early when he claimed there would be a 'hate the Wallabies' orchestrated campaign against his side, including a media campaign featuring Clyde Rathbone being repeatedly hit, allegations about Justin Harrison being the 'dirtiest player in world rugby' and hype about Brendan Cannon's punch-up with Kevan Mealamu. In fairness, there has been a TV ad showing a montage of hits on Rathbone, the Durban-raised native playing for Australia in his home town. Referee Paddy O'Brien will surely be keeping an eye out for any special attention meted out to Rahtbone.
Jones also alleged that South Africa had taped their 'captain's run' the day before their Tri Nations encounter last season, saying that security would be stepped up this week at training.
What he didn't allege was that there would be referee priming allegations of illegal practices against his team. Which is what there have been. Jake White has been suggesting that the Wallaby front row has been scrummaging illegally without going into the specifics, but pointing the finger at Bill Young. Plus ca change ...
Australia have only won one Tri Nations fixture (albeit in Durban) from ten attempts. And given the trend in this year's tournament towards home wins and the high that the Springboks are on, it will be a hell of an achievement for Australia to eke out a win here.
Paddy Power makes the South Africans 4-7 favourites, with Australia at 5/4.
Australia: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 George Gregan (captain), 8 David Lyons, 7 Phil Waugh, 6 George Smith, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Brendan Cannon, 1 Bill Young. Replacements: 16 Jeremy Paul, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Daniel Vickerman, 19 John Roe, 20 Chris Whitaker, 21 Matthew Burke, 22 Wendell Sailor.
South Africa: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Jean de Villiers, 10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 AJ Venter, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Os du Randt. Replacements: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Gerrie Britz, 19 Jacques Cronji, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Gaffie du Toit, 22 Brent Russell. Kick-off: 1pm GMT