Smith eyes Wallabies caps record By Bret Harris July 10, 2008 THE rare combination of flair and durability will see openside flanker George Smith become Australia's most capped forward when the Wallabies play South Africa in the Tri-Nations Test in Perth on Saturday week. Smith, who equalled John Eales' record of 86 Test appearances when he came off the bench in the 40-10 win over France in Brisbane last Saturday, is now in the top 10 of the world's most capped forwards. The only forwards who have played more Tests than Smith are Jason Leonard, Fabien Pelous, Gareth Llewellyn, Raphael Ibanez, Malcolm O'Kelly, Scott Murray, Colin Charvis, Olivier Magne and Sean Fitzpatrick. "I guess it's a great achievement," Smith said. "It's a nice thing. It's good to be consistent in the way I play at this level. "That's a thing I've always tried to install in my game is to be consistent in the way I play the game. To reach this number is great, but I want a few more." A mainstay of the Wallabies since his Test debut against France in 2000, Smith will achieve the milestone because he is one of the world's best backrowers and is rarely injured, at least not seriously. "I don't think there is a secret," Smith said. "It's just hard work. I've been fortunate to not get any injuries in my career thus far, so hopefully that continues and I can stay on top of the niggling ones I do get." Smith is expected to regain his starting position for the Springboks Test from long-time rival Phil Waugh, who wore the No7 jersey in Brisbane. "No player wants to start off the bench," Smith said. "They always want to be in the starting team. Whichever way the coaches go, that's out of my control. "All I can do is train well on the training paddock and do well in the games. "I definitely want to play in that Test match. It's a crucial one for us. The start of the Tri-Nations and the way the Boks have been physically and raised their intensity, we are definitely going to have to match it. "It's going to be a high-intensity game. "These Tri-Nations games are always quite hard, but the boys in the squad are definitely up for the challenge." The Wallabies' battle at the breakdown against the aggressive Springboks backrow will be decisive. "They have a wealth of talent, not only in their backrow, but their whole squad," Smith said. "It's good coming up against them. Joe van Niekerk has been in the squad for a number of years and Schalk Burger and Juan Smith. These guys are very experienced. "I think they draw a lot of inspiration from Schalk Burger, but you can't take away from the other players in their backrow. "They are all experienced, they are all leaders within their own provinces. "That's something that teams always gain from. A lot of leaders within the team." One of the most skilful forwards in world rugby, Smith's all-round game is well-suited to the new style of play under coach Robbie Deans. "I'm definitely enjoying it," Smith said. "It's a nice change. The boys are responding well to it. I enjoy the style of game that he (Deans) coaches. I always like to get my hands on the ball. "The ELV (experimental law variations) game has also allowed a number of us to display our ball-skills. "We've got a very skilful bunch of players and that is a good asset for the team." If Smith, 27, plays until the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, he will probably pass Leonard (121) as the most capped forward in world rugby. Even George Gregan's world record of 139 caps would be within reach. But Smith has the more modest goal of playing 100 Tests. "Gregan's record is pretty special. It's quite a hard mark to get," Smith said. "I'm aware the mark of 100 is attainable, but whether it comes to fruition will depend on how well I work in getting myself right for each game." Good on him... has undoubtedly been the best forward in our pack for a good number of years now... And I find the following story to be interesting... I don't think we've yet got the right balance in our back 5 forwards and I do believe Deans and Williams need to experiment at some stage... McMeniman eyeing off No.8 By Bret Harris July 10, 2008 VERSATILE Australia forward Hugh McMeniman is hoping to follow a successful South Africa World Cup tactic of playing second-rowers at No.8 to increase the size and strength of the pack. Mark Andrews was shifted to number eight for the Springboks in 1995 and Danie Rossouw was moved to the back of the scrum last year, both leading to South African World Cup triumphs. It is a part of cup history which has not escaped the attention of the Wallabies second-rower/blindside flanker. "They are basically just big, athletic blokes, good ball-runners and good skills as well," McMeniman said of Andrews and Rossouw. McMeniman has been included in the Wallabies' 30-man Tri-Nations squad for his athleticism, aggression and versatility. While Wycliff Palu is the Wallabies' first-choice number eight, McMeniman is keen to add another string to his bow by being able to play the position. McMeniman has all of the attributes to succeed. One of the fastest forwards in the Wallabies squad, McMeniman is a strong ball-runner and tackler, and is highly effective at the breakdown. Queensland coach Phil Mooney has agreed to McMeniman's request about getting some game time at number eight with the Reds in the Super 14 series next year. "One of my goals for the Reds is to play a couple of games at number eight," he said. "We are going to get working on it in the pre-season. "I would enjoy it because I guess there is a bit more running with the ball. I love running with the ball in my hands. "I've just got to work on the stuff at the back of the scrum because that's bloody hard work and if you knock the ball on at the back of the scrum, the front row won't be happy. "It will take a lot of practice." At 200cm, McMeniman would also strengthen the Wallabies' lineout at number eight, particularly under the experimental law variations, which allow the defending team to use as many players as it wants in the set piece. "Obviously, you've got a big pack, but also in the lineout we are going to lean more towards a seven-man lineout now with the ELVs," McMeniman said. "You have a lot of jumpers in your lineout. That's an advantage. Also, around the park, you've got big ball-runners everywhere. It's intimidating to look at." McMeniman, who broke his ankle in the Reds' round-two match with the Hurricanes, missed the rest of the Super 14 season, making his comeback with Brisbane club West Brisbane a few weeks ago. After playing two games for Australia A, McMeniman was recalled to the Wallabies' bench for the second Test against France in Brisbane last Saturday when second-rower Nathan Sharpe withdrew with a groin injury. McMeniman got more game time in the Wallabies' 40-10 win than he was expecting, replacing injured second-rower James Horwill just before half-time. "I was absolutely blowing," McMeniman said. "It was good. Even though I only had limited time to practise and be with the boys, I felt comfortable out there and thought I played all right." With Sharpe set to rejoin Horwill in the second-row, McMeniman will compete with Dean Mumm for a place on the bench for the Tri-Nations Test against the Springboks in Perth on Saturday week.