Horwill sings Wales' praises

Full-back Kurtley Beale set to return for the Wallabies

Last Updated: 20/10/11 3:30pm

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James Horwill: Praise for Wales

James Horwill: Praise for Wales

Sky Bet

Australia captain James Horwill has praised Wales for playing some of the "best rugby this tournament has had".

The beaten semi-finalists clash at Eden Park on Friday in the bronze medal match in what could be a thrilling encounter, given both teams' liking for attacking rugby.

"Obviously, both teams were disappointed after the weekend," said Horwill.

"But the beauty about this game is you get a chance to right some wrongs from last weekend and finish the tournament on a positive note.

"They (Wales) like to play an expansive game of rugby, which they have shown at this tournament.

Changes

"They've played some fantastic rugby this whole tournament, and their defensive structures, the way they go about things, is some of the best this tournament has had."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has made wholesale changes for the game, including six up-front, but the return of full-back Kurtley Beale after injury proved a headline selection.

"Kurtley is held in high regard by all the players, and also he gives that second playmaker for Quade (Cooper) because he's played a lot at 10 in his time," Horwill added.

"He can step into that first receiver role and help out there. He gives some good voice and obviously he's got that x-factor that you can't coach. He can create something from nothing."

Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe, meanwhile, will win his 100th cap, making him the third lock in Test match history to reach a century after Fabien Pelous and Victor Matfield.

"For a guy like Sharpie, who's been a part of this team and is one of the most-liked people that I've ever played with, he's a guy that I've certainly looked up to in my career," Horwill said.

"He deserves a win in his 100th Test match, and it's a big occasion.

"We are going to go out there and make sure that we give him a performance that is worthy of a guy who has played 100 Tests for his country."

Threat

Wales, and they will not have found themselves alone in this tournament, will need to discover a way of minimising the threat posed by Wallabies openside flanker David Pocock.

But Pocock has great respect for the the Wales back-row, which although it has been shorn of Sam Warburton's services, remains a potent force with former national captain Ryan Jones' inclusion at number eight and Toby Faletau switching to openside.

"They have a back-row with a very high work-rate," Pocock said.

"They get around the field well and they are a team in general that attack the rucks hard in attack and defence.

"They've got some real threats in their back-line. Their centres are arguably the hardest running centres in the tournament, and that gets them on the front foot a lot of the time. Off the back of that, they've got guys with a lot of pace."

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