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Horwill sings Wales' praises


James Horwill

James Horwill

James Horwill

Australia captain James Horwill has highlighted Wales' significant contribution to the Rugby World Cup ahead of the bronze medal match at Eden Park.

The beaten semi-finalists go head to head in what could be a thrilling encounter, given both teams' penchant for attacking rugby, played at pace and often with high risk. They met in the 1987 third place play-off game, which Wales won by a point, and Horwill believes neither team will lack motivation despite seeing their hopes of the ultimate prize dashed.

"Obviously, both teams were disappointed after the weekend," he said. "But the beauty about this game is you get a chance to right some wrongs from last weekend and finish the tournament on a positive note. They (Wales) like to play an expansive game of rugby, which they have shown at this tournament."

Horwill added: "They've played some fantastic rugby this whole tournament, and their defensive structures, the way they go about things, is some of the best this tournament has had."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has made wholesale changes for the game, including six up-front, but the return of full-back Kurtley Beale after injury proved a headline selection.

"Kurtley is held in high regard by all the players, and also he gives that second playmaker for Quade (Cooper) because he's played a lot at 10 in his time," Horwill added.

"He can step into that first receiver role and help out there. He gives some good voice and obviously he's got that x-factor that you can't coach. He can create something from nothing."

Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe, meanwhile, will win his 100th cap, making him the third lock in Test match history to reach a century after Fabien Pelous and Victor Matfield.

"For a guy like Sharpie, who's been a part of this team and is one of the most-liked people that I've ever played with, he's a guy that I've certainly looked up to in my career," Horwill said.

"He deserves a win in his 100th Test match, and it's a big occasion. We are going to go out there and make sure that we give him a performance that is worthy of a guy who has played 100 Tests for his country."

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