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Australia seek veteran advice

Australia have turned to Wallaby greats such as Nick Farr-Jones and Joe Roff for advice on what to expect from the British and Irish Lions during the looming Test series.

While most of the tourists are well known Down Under, particularly the large Welsh contingent, the hosts have sought to address the lack of experience of facing the Lions within their squad and management.

Twelve years have passed since the elite of British and Irish rugby last visited Australia, but the impact of the 29-13 drubbing in the opening Test is still being felt as plans are drawn up to repel the early onslaught envisaged when the series opens in Brisbane on Saturday. Mindful that the Lions will be battle-hardened by six provincial matches while Australia have not played together since November, coach Robbie Deans has asked veterans from 1989 and 2001 to brief his players.

"Bringing the former Wallabies in has been something the management have done," utility back Berrick Barnes said.

"The Lions are lucky because they have guys like Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell who have been on tours before.

"Their experience, plus guys like Tom Croft and Jamie Roberts who played so well in South Africa four years ago, will be important.

"Speaking to a number of the guys who played against the Lions in 2001, they were shocked at the intensity of that first Test and how well drilled the Lions were.

"The 2001 Lions had the bulk of that England squad that were so successful. We'll face something similar in terms of the Welsh outfit that's played well together.

"From the 1989 series we had Tim Gavin and Nick Farr-Jones, who has been speaking to the guys about different things. We also had Simon Poidevin from 1989.

"Then from 2001 we had David Giffin and Joe Roff, who was one of the most influential blokes from that series. You draw on what they have to say, but it's up to us to write our own history."


From Belfast Telegraph