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October 14, 2009

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Players refute talks of tension among Wallabies

FLYHALF Matt Giteau and former captain Stirling Mortlock have played down talk of a rift within the Wallabies camp over coach Robbie Deans' leadership appointments for the season-ending Europe tour.

Local media have reported player disenchantment within the Wallabies after Deans dumped Mortlock as captain for the tour and named Rocky Elsom as his successor. Playmaker Giteau was overlooked for vice captain in favor of Berrick Barnes.

The players, both included in the 35-man squad, told reporters at a training camp in Sydney yesterday that while they were disappointed at missing out on the leadership roles, they understood the decisions and their places in the team.

"I was really keen to try to lead this tour, I mean I have stated that," 80-test veteran Mortlock told Australian television.

"The reality is I totally understand the logic and the reasoning behind selecting a new captain," the 32-year-old added.

Giteau echoed Mortlock's disappointment but said there was no tension within the Wallabies.

"I think if you talk to any players within the squad at some point they would like some form of leadership role at some point in time, so from that point of view (I am) disappointed but fully supportive of the guys that obviously the coach and (ARU boss) John O'Neill have appointed," he said.

The Wallabies travel to Japan this month for their final Bledisloe Cup match against the All Blacks in Tokyo on October 31, before meeting England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland in the first "grand slam" tour of Europe in 25 years.


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