Patience pays for Larkham


Considered and deliberate, Stephen Larkham tried to summarise eight months of frustration in just a few sentences. A serious knee injury deprived him of Super 12 action and then a broken thumb four weeks ago almost scuppered his World Cup plans entirely.

However, his patience and hard work will be rewarded on Sunday when he will take his place in the Australian team to face Ireland. He conceded: "I'm obviously delighted to be back. I've had a couple of injuries, the knee in particular, and at one stage I thought I wouldn't get back for the World Cup.

"I managed to get clear of that and then two or three weeks ago I broke my hand and had to face another threat of missing the World Cup. But I'm here now and very happy to be a part of the team."

Larkham admitted that he faced an anxious wait immediately after breaking his thumb. "I broke it early in the game and didn't go for an X-ray until next day.

"There was as probably an hour's wait before I found out whether I would stay in the squad. The selectors had a bit of a meeting and came to a decision. That was an anxious hour."

Prior to the knee and thumb problems Larkham managed six games, two in the Ricoh series and four club matches. He was just glad to be back, having had to endure the tedium of a long lay-off with his knee.

"During the week it was okay, I was concentrating on training but at the weekends it was frustrating being on the sideline. When they played New Zealand, I was on the sideline and I was actually very nervous watching the game. But I was very pleased with the victory. I'm not a very good spectator."

The player outlined his expectations for the Ireland match: "I guess this is going to be our biggest Pool game and we have been gearing up for this. I'm expecting it to be our hardest match. We are very wary of playing Ireland at Lansdowne Road and the crowd support they get there. It is the biggest game for me in a while and I am not going to take it lightly."

While Larkham has been sidelined through injury, newly reinstated left wing for Sunday's game Joe Roff was left to cool his heels on the bench after a couple of indifferent performances in the Tri-Nations series: against Ireland he reclaims the number 11 jersey from Jason Little.

"It's very frustrating and disappointing when you get dropped. Rod and the management said that they would give me another opportunity. I've always said I wanted a role in the World Cup but just had to wait for my opportunity. I'm glad that I have been given a chance.

"I knew I had a very disappointing game in South Africa. I was as filthy at myself as Rod and the management were with me. I guess there are positive aspects to come out of it. You get the desire back, I've got a certain amount of hunger that was lacking. I'm looking forward to another opportunity."

Roff agreed that his two-try performance against Romania facilitated his return. "I was reasonably pleased with my display. On those wet and cold evenings it can be quite boring for a winger, standing out on the wing when the opportunities don't come. I was thankful that the chances did come and I managed to cross the line a couple of times."

The big wing was adamant that it was not complacency that cost him his starting place initially. "One strength of the squad is that anyone can play a position."