RWC: Wallabies eager to bow out with bronze
Story and Photo: www.rugbyworldcup.com
AUCKLAND, 18 Oct. - Some may see it as a dead rubber play-off but Australia prop Ben Alexander is adamant his side's match against Wales for the bronze medal on Friday is anything but meaningless.
Alexander insisted the Wallabies were still motivated by the prospect of finishing third after the crushing disappointment of Sunday's semi-final defeat to the rampaging All Blacks.
"We want to come away with something to show from this tournament and a bronze medal would be great,” he said.
"To walk away with nothing would just compound the pain that we're already feeling now. We're going to get up and we're going to be ready to put on a good show.
“Hopefully we're going to be able to walk away with a bronze medal and say, 'Look guys, we were beaten by the best - we can handle that - but we still put in.'"
Alexander predicted the attacking instincts of Australia and Wales would produce an open contest between two sides intent on scoring points.
"Hopefully you'll see two very good attacking sides that will try to put on a good show, have a great game of rugby and just enjoy what rugby is about,” he said.
Adam Ashley-Cooper has his own reason to hope for an attacking match - two more tries would see the Wallabies utility back overtake Vincent Clerc as leading try-scorer at Rugby World Cup 2011 if the France winger fails to add to his tally of six in Sunday's final.
But Ashley-Cooper said he was focused on helping Australia end their campaign on a high note rather than any prospect of personal glory, and the 27-year-old had a simple answer when asked why fans should care about the result of the match.
"Because we care. And if they care about us then they will care,” he said.
“They need to know that the collective group here representing the country care a lot. Obviously we suffered a pretty significant loss on the weekend and everyone was very upset by it and everyone took it personally.”
“We've got an opportunity to turn things around and we really want to win this game."
Wales have signalled their intent ahead of the match by selecting the strongest line-up available to them while Australia coach Robbie Deans - who has ruled out hooker Stephen Moore, second row Dan Vickerman, prop Sekope Kepu and centre Pat McCabe through injury - will announce his line-up on Wednesday afternoon.
Full back Kurtley Beale, yet to fully recover from the hamstring strain that kept him out of the semi-final, is considered doubtful.