Knuckles keen to see Latham in France - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knuckles keen to see Latham in France

By Jim Morton 11/07/2007 07:23:20 PM Comments (0)

Former All Black Grant Batty has warned Wallabies selectors they risk killing off their World Cup hopes by fast-tracking Chris Latham's Test return.

Batty, who coached Latham in his club comeback for Gold Coast on Saturday, said it would be crazy to expose the world-class fullback in the July 21 Tri-Nations decider against New Zealand.

The Queensland attacking machine is seriously being considered to start at Auckland's Eden Park following just two club games back from a knee reconstruction.

In Christchurch for an All Blacks reunion, he rated Latham as important to Australia for the World Cup as Daniel Carter is to the All Blacks.

"To win the World Cup they need Latho to be at his very best," former Test winger Batty said.

"How do you ensure he's at his very best? Playing now doesn't ensure that and there's a risk that isn't as worth taking.

"He's as important to Australia as Carter is to New Zealand."

Latham underwent surgery in January and his impressive 40 minute club return against Norths-QUT was three months ahead of normal schedule.

The 31-year-old is slated to play 60 minutes for the Coast in Sunday's Queensland Premier Rugby major semi-final at Ballymore where Australia coach John Connolly will be an interested spectator.

Latham admitted after his comeback the Bledisloe Cup clash at Auckland's Eden Park was off his radar but he's been picked in an extended 33-man squad which will be trimmed to 24 on Tuesday.

Batty, who also coached Latham when assistant to Connolly with Queensland in 1999 and 2000, finds it astounding the selectors are considering playing him after such a lengthy sideline stint.

"For one game why would you risk the possibility of him breaking down or being injured," he said.

"He's playing against bigger and stronger blokes (than club rugby) and if his timing isn't right that's when you're going to get into trouble. That's the major issue."

Connolly on Wednesday felt it would be an important psychological boost for the 2006 John Eales Medallist to play Test rugby before the World Cup kicks off on September 7 in France.

"Any other year you probably wouldn't consider him but this year you get him back in the saddle," he said.

But Batty said the seven-week international break before the tournament would have all Wallabies in Latham's fresh position.

He doubted whether Latham was ready for the immediate jump and felt stand-in Julian Huxley had filled in admirably.

"I'd have serious doubts whether Latho, psychologically would be up to it,' Batty said.

"And it wasn't in his mind when I last spoke to him."

"I don't think he's going to be on song and Huxley hasn't done a bad job.

"The reality is the more exposure you give to someone like him Huxley) at that high-pressure environment the better he'll be for it."

Connolly will also cast his eye over the form of props Greg Holmes and Rodney Blake when Sunnybank play Berrick Barnes' Wests in Sunday's minor semi-final at Ballymore.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news