Elsom happy to be back
Australia skipper determined to prove his fitness
Last Updated: 14/07/11 7:19am
Elsom: Feeling as 'fresh as a daisy'
Australia captain Rocky Elsom is hoping he can go the distance against Samoa on Sunday.
Elsom has managed just one Super Rugby appearance since his side's last Test against France in November.
Elsom was plagued by a hamstring complaint for the first 13 weeks of the season before he suffered an ankle injury in his comeback match against the Western Force.
The 28-year-old, though, reckons he has recovered fully from both ailments and is looking forward to a full 80-minute run-out.
"I'm pretty happy to be back," he said.
"Obviously I've had a couple of long breaks there and I'm just really enjoying training with the team rather than by myself.
"I've always been progressing well. In my head I think I've prepared pretty well considering the injury.
"My hamstring was fine when I went back to play for the Brumbies so I can only imagine that it's stronger since then.
"It's funny. Sometimes you're in the middle of a long season and you feel fresh as a daisy and sometimes you don't - it's just the way it goes but I'm pretty excited about getting back into it."
Coach Robbie Deans was more conservative when asked if Elsom was back to full fitness.
"Well he's fit and available, so you can call it 100% if you like but from a rugby perspective obviously it's not (100%)," Deans said.
"He doesn't have rugby conditioning but it's good that he's able to get started and we'll just respond to what we see in terms of within the game and go from there."
The imposing flanker will lead an under-strength line-up missing nine regular starters at ANZ Stadium.
Deans has opted to rest Reds skipper James Horwill and star playmaker Quade Cooper, while Will Genia, Beau Robinson and Scott Higginbotham will start the match off the bench.
Winger Digby Ioane is the only member of the Super 15 champion Reds side who will start the game.
Reigning John Eales medallist David Pocock will miss with a minor foot injury allowing his Force team-mate Matt Hodgson to make his run-on debut.
Melbourne Rebels half-back Nick Phipps and Waratahs lock Sitaleki Timani will both play their maiden Test match, while veteran full-back Mark Gerrard will make his first international start in four years.
Elsom backed the debutants to handle the step up to the Test arena.
"It is good that guys get their opportunity. There's a lot of excited blokes out there," he said.
"And I remember when I had my first Test. It was against Samoa in similar circumstances and it was a pretty good feeling and I imagine they'll enjoy it."
The skipper insists the Wallabies are not looking past this weekend's opponents ahead of next Saturday's Tri Nations opener against South Africa.
"With the preparation time we have being so limited, you've got to take advantage of every moment you have," he said.
"We're fortunate to have a game this weekend and we've got to get the most out of it otherwise we'll be letting ourselves down."