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    Tuesday, 2 June 2009 2:04pm

    Although Test caps will not be awarded, Emirates Western Force blindside flanker Matt Hodgson will play his first match for Australia after today being named in the Wallabies side to open the 2009 Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series against the Barbarians.

    The Sydney-born loose forward, who will celebrate his 28th birthday later this month, has been selected to partner Force team-mate Richard Brown, and George Smith in the Australian loose-trio for Saturday nightís match at the Sydney Football Stadium.

    Stirling Mortlock will lead Australia, and has been named at outside centre for the match, which sees the Wallabies return to the SFS for the first time since a 41-29 win over New Zealand Maori in 2001.

    Other features of the backline include the selection of last yearís regular custodian, Adam Ashley-Cooper, at fullback, where he appeared in nine of his 11 Test matches for the Wallabies last year. Lachie Turner and Drew Mitchell are paired on the wings, while there is also a return in the starting formation of the combination between flyhalf Matt Giteau and inside centre Berrick Barnes.

    The twin-playmakers have not started alongside each other for the Qantas Wallabies since Australiaís historic 27-15 win over South Africa at Durban on 23 August last year.

    In the forward pack, James Horwill is back in the second row after the Queensland Reds captain was forced to miss last yearís Spring Tour due to an operation on a foot-ligament injury.

    He will combine with Nathan Sharpe behind Australiaís regular front row from last yearís Test season; props Al Baxter and Benn Robinson, and hooker Stephen Moore.

    Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says the strength of the line-up reflects both the respect with which they hold the Barbarians playing roster, but also their desire to ďhit the groundĒ running as the Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series kicks off.

    ďItís a high quality line-up we are up against,Ē Deans says.

    ďThe Barbarians boast proven performers at this level, who are hungry for more success without being burdened by the pressure of expectation that you associate with full Test matches. Because of that, they will be even more dangerous as an opponent. This will be a Test match in every thing but name.Ē

    Deans pointed to Decemberís match between the two teams in London, which was everything but festival-like in nature, as an example of the type of intensity the fans can expect at the Sydney Football Stadium.

    ďThe Barbarians side we faced last year was a strong one. For experience across the board, this one is even stronger, and they have the advantage on us, in terms of time together to prepare, having played together last weekend when they beat England.Ē

    The Baabaas flexed their muscles at Twickenham last weekend, beating England 33-26.

    To oppose the visitors, Australia will field a side that draws on proven performers from last yearís campaign, as well as rewarding some of the form players of the recently concluded Investec Super 14.

    Twelve of the players selected today appeared in Australiaís most recent match against the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium in London last December, when the Wallabies prevailed 18-11.

    Turner scored the second of Australiaís two tries on that occasion while James OíConnor, who started at fullback on that night but is among the run on reserves this time, handled the goal-kicking and contributed eight points.

    As was last yearís practice; players not included in this weekendís match day squad of 22 who are fit and available for selection will be released to their clubís following Thursdayís Wallabies training session.

    The Barbarians, who arrived in Australia yesterday (Monday) morning, announce their line-up for the match tomorrow.

    The Wallabies team to play the Barbarians at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday 6 June (7.30pm kick off), is:

    1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
    2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
    3. Al Baxter (NSW Waratahs)
    4. James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
    5. Nathan Sharpe (EWF)
    6. Matt Hodgson (EWF)
    7. George Smith (Brumbies)*
    8. Richard Brown (EWF)*

    9. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)*
    10. Matt Giteau (EWF)
    11. Drew Mitchell (EWF)*
    12. Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds)
    13. Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies, captain)
    14. Lachie Turner (Waratahs)*
    15. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)*

    16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)*
    17. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)*
    18. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)*
    19. David Pocock (EWF)*
    20. Josh Valentine (EWF)
    21. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)*
    22. James OíConnor (EWF)*

    * denotes players who featured in Decemberís match between the Wallabies and the Barbarians in London.

    Australia v Barbarians Ė Historical Notes

    • While the Barbarians have appeared in South Africa previously, Saturday night will be the first time the famous festival club has played in either Australia or New Zealand.
    • This will be the 11th match between Australia and the Barbarians since the foundation game in 1948 at Cardiff Arms Park. The Barbarians won on that occasion, 9-6.
    • Australia has won its last six matches against the Barbarians, and has won seven of the 10 games that have been played. The most recent match prior to last year was at the end of the 2001 Spring Tour when the Wallabies prevailed 49-35 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
    • Saturday nightís match continues the strong association that exists between the Barbarians club and the three Tri-Nations countries of the SANZAR alliance. As well as its record against Australia, the Barbarians have played New Zealand on nine occasions (for a solitary victory, alongside a draw and seven losses), and South Africa six times Ė for three wins apiece. The Baabaas most recent outing against the Springboks was in 2007, when they beat the newly crowned Rugby World Cup champions. The Baabaas will play New Zealand again during the All Blacksí Spring Tour later in the year.
    • Saturday night represents the 24th match played by the Wallabies at the SFS since it first hosted Test rugby when Australia beat the British & Irish Lions 30-12 in the first Test of the 1989 series.
    • The most recent appearance by the Wallabies at the SFS was a 41-29 win over New Zealand Maori in a non-cap match in 2001.
    • Australia has won 18 Tests at the ground and lost four.
    • The SFS has hosted five other Test matches not featuring Australia, all during the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

    Australia v Barbarians Results 1948-2008
    1948: Barbarians 9, Australia 6 at Cardiff
    1958: Barbarians 11, Australia 6 at Cardiff
    1967: Australia 17, Barbarians 11 at Cardiff
    1976: Barbarians 19, Australia 7 at Cardiff
    1984: Australia 37, Barbarians 30 at Cardiff
    1988: Australia 40, Barbarians 22 at Cardiff
    1992: Australia 30, Barbarians 20 at Cardiff
    1996: Australia 39, Barbarians 12 at London
    2001: Australia 49, Barbarians 35 at Cardiff
    2008: Australia 18, Barbarians 11 at London


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