Larkham walks down memory lane in Wales

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies will start their World Cup campaign at the venue where they last won a William Webb Ellis Trophy.

Beating the French in Cardiff in 1999 gave the Wallabies their second World Cup and memories from that tournament came flooding back to the mind of current assistant Stephen Larkham on Tuesday.

Since the 1999 World Cup final, the former Wallabies flyhalf has been involved in just one other World Cupgame at the Cardiff stadium.

Larkham was a spectator in his final World Cup as a player, watching Australia defeat Wales after a knee injury had ended his campaign and Test career.

Driving into the Millennium Stadium for the Wallabies’ captain's run on Tuesday local time, Larkham said a sense of nostalgia had crept in.

“Coming into the stadium it was a good feeling,” he said.

“On the bus it brought back a few memories.

“The changing rooms are a bit different but there are still similarities and similar feelings between then and now. But this is a brand new campaign for these guys.”

Larkham said any flashbacks he might be having weren’t being relayed to the current crop.

“I’ve told them nothing about ’99. It’s a completely different team and different circumstances,” he said.

“These guys have been on a journey together now and the biggest thing we are pushing with them now is that they are playing to their best performance.”

“So they’re not worried about the result. They’re not worried about what happened before, just getting the preparation right this week like they would any other week.”

Larkham said he was happy with the way the team had come together in the months leading up to the tournament, with relatively new combinations being trialled.

One of those that is still very fresh is the halves combination of Queensland’s Will Genia and NSW’s Bernard Foley, who have not started a Test match together before.

Larkham said he was confident the pairing would work against Fiji.

“We’ve been chopping and changing combinations since we’ve come together before the Rugby Championship and we feel this is the best combination for this week,” he said.

“And those guys, certainly through training when they’ve been put together at training have done a fantastic job."

“The communication has been spot on and the connection has been spot-on.”