Wallabies will welcome Larkham - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies will welcome Larkham

By Adrian Warren 24/06/2003 07:02:42 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies are prepared to make an exception for gifted five-eighth Stephen Larkham, who will return to Test rugby on July 12 without any lead-up games.

Larkham's first rugby match in nine weeks will be the Tri Nations opener against South Africa in Cape Town, although he's likely to start off the bench rather than in his normal No.10 jersey, coach Eddie Jones said.

As the wounded Wallabies slowly return to action, Jones said the naturally fit Larkham would be spared the necessities of club rugby which utility back Matt Burke, centre Dan Herbert and flanker Owen Finegan are going through.

Larkham, who missed Australia's first three rugby Tests of the year with a dislocated left elbow, worked alongside some of the current squad and other fringe contenders for the Tri Nations.

The 55-Test veteran, who hasn't played a game since the final round of the Super 12 on May 9, looked rusty according to Jones, who reported no other problems with the gifted pivot.

Jones said Larkham wouldn't play any club rugby before the July 12 clash with the Springboks and therefore the selectors would consider bringing him off the bench rather than automatically starting with him.

While Larkham made his Test debut as a replacement in 1996, he has been an almost permanent starter since then with only two of his other caps earned as a replacement, the last back in 1998.

If the selectors opt to name Larkham on the bench, it will mark a reprieve of sorts for Elton Flatley after he was dropped from last week's Test against England for disciplinary reasons.

Flanker George Smith, who missed the past two Tests with nerve damage in his neck and shoulder region, also participated in defensive and attacking drills in Sydney.

Both Larkham and Smith were expected to be named in Friday's 26-man Wallaby squad for the Tri Nations opener, although Jones said each would undergo another medical review next week.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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