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Australia set for Samoa opener

Australia will open their 2011 international campaign with a rare afternoon Test against Samoa at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on July 17.

It will be the first of five Tests for Robbie Deans' men in the lead up to Australia's 2011 Rugby World Cup opener against Italy in early September.

The Wallabies have won all five of their previous meetings against Samoa, but Deans believes the match will be the perfect starting point ahead of a massive campaign, and said: "The Samoans will be building to the Rugby World Cup themselves which will ensure they field a strong side."

He added: "They are capable, their recent results in the northern hemisphere show that.

"They are in a position to field an experienced group, a lot of who have played in the southern hemisphere and against a lot of our players in Super Rugby so they won't be overawed by the occasion, they'll be looking forward to it."

Australia will also play home and away Tri Nations matches against New Zealand and South Africa in July and August before heading to New Zealand in search of a third World Cup triumph.

They have been drawn in pool C alongside Ireland, Italy, Russia and USA.

Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill says the decision to host the first daylight Test in six years will ensure the match is played in a family-friendly atmosphere.

"Having a Sunday afternoon kick off for the first time since 2005 is designed to give families a real opportunity to enjoy a day out at a Test match - the first in a World Cup year," O'Neill said.

"With just three Tests to be held in Australia before the Rugby World Cup, it is important that grassroots supporters have a chance to see and interact with their heroes."


From Belfast Telegraph