Rocky keen for Tri-Nations success - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rocky keen for Tri-Nations success

By Jim Morton 08/09/2008 06:44:07 AM Comments (0)

There's one thing Wallabies warhorse Rocky Elsom would love to leave Australian rugby with next week: a career highlight.

Elsom has a gaping hole in his playing resume but has a last chance to fill it on Saturday night when Australia can earn their first Tri-Nations title in seven years at Suncorp Stadium.

The tournament decider against the All Blacks presents the rugged 39-Test flanker with a gilt-edged opportunity to lift a cherished major trophy.

Elsom struggled to identify his best moment in Test rugby as he arrived in Brisbane for his final Test before joining Irish side Leinster.

With Australia's trophy cabinet missing any one of the World Cup, Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations since 2002, two Mandela Plate successes over South Africa in 2006 and 2008 are the best series wins Elsom can boast.

"It (a Tri-Nations victory) would definitely be the highlight," he told AAP.

"Every time we've won a trophy we've won it pretty easily and the (bigger) ones we've failed to take."

Instead, single Test victories - headed by two home upsets of New Zealand in the past 14 months - take pride of place for the 25-year-old.

"To beat the All Blacks this year in Sydney was great, as was last year in Melbourne and we thumped the Springboks (49-0) here in Brisbane in 2006," Elsom recalled.

The blind-side flanker has signed a two-season deal with Leinster which includes an option to return home after one, meaning he may only be lost to Australia until next year's Tri-Nations.

But he is still waiting for some clarity from the Australian Rugby Union, who demand only Super 14 players can play Test rugby, whether an early return will allow him to wear the Wallabies jersey again immediately.

Elsom admitted there were no guarantees, even though he holds a strong desire to play in the 2011 World Cup.

He has pushed thoughts of the farewell out of his head due to the significance of the clash, especially after the disappointment of last weekend's 53-8 record loss to South Africa.

"It's pretty easy just to focus on the game just because there's a lot to be done there, but as far as extra motivation I don't need much more than the occasion itself.

"I'm definitely happy we're in this position. At certain stages of this year we've performed well and at other points we've performed really well but we're fortunate to be in this position ... and if we don't make the most of it, (the season) won't mean a lot."

Australia last held the Tri-Nations in 2001 and missed the opportunity to win the title in 2004 and 2007, losing last-match deciders to South Africa and New Zealand respectively.

Both those defeats were away from home and Elsom and Wallabies skipper Stirling Mortlock both drew heart from the home-ground scheduling at Suncorp Stadium.

The Wallabies have lost just once at the ground in the past 12 years - 13-9 to NZ in a highly-physical clash in 2006 - providing some welcome advantage in the wake of the eight-try Springbok thumping.

Elsom felt Australia would be in far better mental shape after the huge wake-up call.

"It sends the message if we're not up for it in absolutely every capacity then it's not going to happen for us," he said

"There definitely was no pride in that performance and no one would be looking forward to repeating that again."

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