Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Wallaby playmaker Stephen Larkham opts to tour Europe

AFP , SYDNEY

Wallabies playmaker Stephen Larkham said yesterday he had decided there was more to be gained touring Europe with the Australian team than spending time at home in the gym.

Larkham, 32, who has 91 Tests under his belt, had toyed with the idea of following scrum-half and skipper George Gregan's lead and withdrawing from the November tour to freshen up for next year's World Cup in France.

The senior fly-half spoke with Wallabies coach John Connolly and attack coach Scott Johnson before deciding to commit himself to the Wallabies' last major overseas tour before the World Cup.

"There were pros and cons both ways," Larkham said. "But they said the tour wouldn't be all that physically taxing for me, that I wouldn't play in every Test and would be able to get in some work in the gym."

Larkham has admitted problems in adapting to a new style after eight years of rugby under previous coaches Eddie Jones and Rod Macqueen, but believes that with more game time he will be able to adapt better to what Johnson wants.

"I'm happy to play the midweek games," he said. "To me, it doesn't really matter what the quality of the opposition is."

After the Wallabies' 24-16 Tri-Nations loss to South Africa in Johannesburg this month, Larkham recommended that Mat Rogers be given more time at No. 10 on tour.

The Wallabies will play four internationals, three midweek matches and end with a game against the Barbarians on their European tour.

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