Fri, Dec 03, 2004 - Page 22 News List

Barbarians get ready for New Zealand

HONORED Justin Marshall, with 77 Test appearances the most-capped back in All Black history, will face the haka and his team tomorrow as captain of the Barbarians

AFP , LONDON, BUENOS AIRES AND DUBAI

Barbarians head coach Bob Dwyer, left, and Barbarians captain Justin Marshall at a news conference after training at Twickenham Stadium in London.

PHOTO: AP

Justin Marshall will go where few New Zealand rugby players have gone before when he faces up to the haka at Twickenham tomorrow rather than issuing the All Blacks' famous pre-match challenge.

Scrumhalf Marshall, the most-capped back in New Zealand history with 77 Test appearances, will find himself in unfamiliar territory when he captains the Barbarians, rugby union's most prestigious invitational side, against the All Blacks.

"I have thought about it and I don't know what it is going to be like on the other side of the haka -- but I know what it's like dishing it out'," Marshall said on Wednesday.

"Not a lot of All Blacks can say they have faced the haka before and know what it is like to stand there and be part of something that is hugely traditional in New Zealand and a big part of our game.

"I am not scared, I am looking forward to it," Marshall insisted.

"I am looking forward to the opportunity of having the shoe on the other foot, to discover what it's like to face the All Blacks. It is the uniqueness of playing the All Blacks," he said.

The 31-year-old Canterbury star was rested from New Zealand's tour by coach Graham Henry and so missed their Test victories against Italy, Wales and France.

That left Marshall free to play his first game for the Barbarians. Whereas in the amateur era a Barbarians match against an international side was often a Test in all but name, there are accusations that tomorrow's fixture is nothing more than a money-making exercise.

Henry has picked a second-string side, showing 13 changes from the team that ran out in last week's 45-6 thrashing of France, with only fullback Malili Muliaina and wing Doug Howlett retained even though more than 54,000 tickets have been sold.

"What's important is this is a brilliant opportunity to play for a brilliant club which is steeped in history," said Marshall.

"More than anything, I have bumped into players throughout the world who have been involved and they have spoken highly of the experience.

"It has taken me 10 years to be asked to play for them and it is a massive honor. I jumped at the opportunity. I am thrilled to be here, even if it means playing against the All Blacks," he said.

Unusually, the Barbarians are dominated by southern hemisphere players with Italy prop Andrea Lo Cicero the lone European representative after France's Thomas Castaignede was retained by English Premiership side Saracens and England duo Mike Catt and Chris Jones both pulled out through injury.

Now Marshall finds himself in the same back division as Wallabies Matt Giteau, Mat Rogers and Lote Tuqiri and is relishing the experience.

"They have been very receptive. You wouldn't know they are the people you go out and compete against, I am thrilled to be part of this side. It is a fantastic, unique experience.

"I have been fortunate enough to be an All Black for 10 years and played against a lot of these players. To have them in my side, to see how they prepare, has been brilliant," Marshall said.

South Africa vs Argentina

South Africa have made two changes to the side that swamped Scotland 45-10 last weekend for a one-off Test against Argentina tomorrow.

Gaffie du Toit comes in at fullback for Percy Montgomery, who has returned to Welsh club Gwent Dragons, and number eight Joe van Niekerk steps aside for Jacques Cronje.

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