Waugh declared for Spring Tour - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Waugh declared for Spring Tour

By Jim Morton 01/10/2008 06:07:56 PM Comments (0)

Phil Waugh is embracing the biggest challenge of his career.

The man who started last year as Australia's captain is currently in danger of being overlooked for a Wallabies team for the first time since injury wrecked his 2002 season.

Boom young flanker David Pocock has been picked in the Wallabies Spring Tour squad on the back of rave reviews during his Super 14 apprenticeship with the Western Force and is seen as a future No.7 heading towards the 2011 World Cup.

With Waugh's perennial selection rival George Smith making the open-side position his own in 2008, to the extent the 29-year-old wasn't even called off the bench in the Tri-Nations loss to New Zealand last month, he appears to be at the crossroads.

But the 74-Test veteran is determined to prove critics questioning his ability have "short memories" and won't go down without a massive fight.

"Absolutely mate. I'm absolutely up for any challenge," he told AAP.

"It's not a matter of hanging on and trying to get the No.7 jersey back, I want to be starting in it.

"I'm not battling to hang on to the No.2 (man at seven), I'm battling to get back to the No.1.

"For my whole career I've been under enormous pressure, and the most is from myself."

Waugh enjoyed an impressive Super 14 season captaining NSW and was seen to be level pegging with Smith but struggled for Test match consistency with little time for the Wallabies.

His only starts in the Tri-Nations coincided with thumping defeats - 39-10 to New Zealand in Auckland and 53-8 to South Africa in Johannesburg.

After the eight-try drubbing by the Springboks, coach Robbie Deans dropped Waugh to the bench for the tournament decider in Brisbane.

While it was the first time in his international career he'd watched an entire Test, Waugh said he was more disappointed by the 28-24 loss to miss out on the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup.

"That's the first time and the way it panned out on the night," he said.

"I was obviously disappointed with the opportunities I did get when I started, obviously a few disappointing results.

"Personally, there's still a lot of improvement (needed) because I haven't been happy with the way things turned out.

"So I guess it's important to go back to the drawing board and have faith in what you're doing and how you're preparing to be ready for when the opportunities come and perform well when they do."

Deans, who has put his 33-man squad through a rigorous early training camp in Sydney this week, will be confronted with tough back-row choices on the six-match spring tour.

Waugh has nothing but praise for 20-year-old Pocock and, like his relationship with Smith and David Croft, is treating him as a partner in crime rather than rival.

"He's a nice guy and nice and enthusiastic and is very excited to be here," he said.

"The three of us certainly won't be working against each other, we'll be working with each other to win six out six on the tour."

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