Faingaa keen on All Blacks face off
Anthony Faingaa says he is excited at the prospect of taking on a power-packed All Blacks midfield should he find himself back at inside centre for the start of the inaugural four-nation Rugby Championship.
The hard-running strong-tackling Queensland Reds back is in contention for a start at inside centre for the first Rugby Championship match against New Zealand in Sydney on August 18 after incumbent No.12 Pat McCabe suffered a leg stress fracture, that could sideline him for up to four Tests.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans could shift Berrick Barnes to inside centre now that five-eighth Quade Cooper is fit, but he has shown a liking in big games for a no-nonsense direct No.12 rather than a second ball player.
Faingaa, whose only listed Test start at inside centre was in his first run-on appearance against New Zealand in August 2010, spent time running in that position on Friday, the final day of the second national training camp.
While he hasn’t played in the position on a regular basis since early last year, Faingaa is confident he can adjust.
Sidelined for seven weeks by a foot injury, Faingaa said he was fully fit after being part of Queensland’s late-season surge to the Super Rugby finals. If he does get the nod against New Zealand, Faingaa could find himself up against two 100kg plus behemoths in Ma’a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams.
An eye injury will sideline 58-Test outside centre Conrad Smith for the first Wallabies encounter, leaving the way open for New Zealand selectors to recall Nonu and put him alongside Williams.
“They will definitely pose a great threat to us,” Faingaa said of Nonu and Williams.
“You’ve got to look at guys like Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read, so they’ve just got a fantastic team.
“It’s just not going to be just the Ma’a Nonu and SBW show.”
Asked about the best way to stop offloading king Williams, Faingaa said “I think still low, but your second man has to be over the top quicker.
“I think both players, Sonny Bill and Ma’a Nonu, have got great leg speed, great passing and all the abilities.
“For us as a team, us as a backline, it’s going to be a big task and something we’ll look forward to.”
Faingaa felt midfield linchpin Smith would be a big loss for the All Blacks.
“I think Conrad is a big part of their team and culture,” Faingaa said.
“Obviously, Conrad has been around for a long time, so he does the things that you don’t really see, the kick chases, the little things at the breakdown.
“Making one-on-one tackles, scrapping the ball up and all the one per centers, so he’s definitely going to be a really big loss for them and I think it’s a great opportunity for us to play the All Blacks without him.”© AAP 2013
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