Kangaroos dared to target England No.7 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kangaroos dared to target England No.7

By Steve Jancetic 31/10/2008 09:11:35 PM Comments (0)

England coach Tony Smith has claimed Australia would be better served trying to protect their own playmakers than targeting pint-sized Lions halfback Rob Burrow in Sunday's World Cup clash at Telstra Dome.

Standing just 165cm and tipping the scales at 67kg, Burrow is seen as the weak link in England's defensive line, but Smith backed the Leeds No.7 to more than hold his own.

Rather, Smith suggested it was Kangaroos linchpin Johnathan Thurston who was the one to be targeted, if the Australian halfback made it onto the field.

Thurston has been struggling with a shoulder injury with a decision on his availability to be delayed until after Saturday morning's final training run.

"He'll get tested at some stage," Smith said of Thurston.

"We're not going to go out of our way ... (but) it's pretty well publicised that he's got a crook shoulder and I'm sure some of the players in my team will test him out.

"They can go all they want at Rob ... he's a tough little thing and he can handle it, he can put people on their heads.

"He's shown that for years and years now in the Super League and everyone spots him up because of his size.

"I've got no dramas, they can spot him as much as they like."

Smith rejected claims from Australian coach Ricky Stuart that England would try and bash the Kangaroos out of the contest, but admitted his side's strength lay in their forward pack.

With the likes of Adrian Morley, Gareth Ellis, Gareth Hock, Kevin Sinfield and skipper Jamie Peacock packing down in the scrum, England have the edge in experience with Kangaroos backrower Glenn Stewart, Anthony Laffranchi and Paul Gallen having just a handful of Tests between them.

But Morley, who admitted he would love the opportunity to start the match after being named on the bench, said the Kangaroos had lost none of their sting with noted firebrands Willie Mason and Michael Crocker both unavailable for the tournament.

"(Petero) Civoniceva and (Steve) Price they're old warhorses, they've been there at the top of the game for a number of years," Morley said.

"They'll be the backbone of the forward pack and the young blokes that have come in, they're equally adept at aggression as well as skill."

Stuart believes Morley will be promoted to the starting line-up to lead England's aggressive start on Sunday night, but the veteran prop denied he had anything special in store.

"That's just Ricky trying to stir up a bit of trouble as he does," said Morley of his former Sydney Roosters mentor.

"I think our forward pack has been a match for the Kiwis and the Aussies the last few years and if we've got a chance to win this tournament we need to stand up and be counted.

"It's every forward's job to try and fight fire with fire - I'll just be playing my normal game.

"I'd like to start, that would be my preference but ... if I start off the bench it's not a problem."

The entire England squad was set to attend Friday night's Australia v Ireland international rules match at the MCG before having their first look at Telstra Dome on Saturday's final training run.

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