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August 14, 2009

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Tempers fray in Wallabies camp before Kiwi tie

TENSIONS almost boiled over in the Wallabies camp yesterday when teenage fullback James O'Connor and flanker Phil Waugh squared off during a rugged training session.

There were no punches thrown but the pair had to be separated by teammates after shaping up to each other while preparing for next week's Tri-Nations test against New Zealand.

"It's good, we're getting pretty competitive and I don't think either of us wanted to back down. It was all in good fun," O'Connor told reporters.

"Our approach is, we've got to bring a bit more mongrel to the game and step up our physicality. That's what we brought to training today and it was pretty intense."

Australia coach Robbie Deans, who has vowed to start wielding the axe after his team lost both its opening matches away to New Zealand and South Africa, welcomed the confrontation. "The fact it's a bit testy at training's not a bad thing, because it'll be no holds barred come game time," Deans said.

There was better news for the Wallabies when openside flanker Rocky Elsom completed his first full session of the year. Elsom has been sidelined all season because of a niggling knee problem but is expected to make his comeback against the All Blacks when they lock horns in Sydney on August 22.

"It has been quite frustrating for him. It was a significant injury," Deans said. "It was more complex and sinister than was first thought. But he's now back out there and enjoying being back out there.

"He's very confident at the moment, so as long as there's no setback between now and next week I'd imagine we'd be considering him."

Deans also expects flyhalf Matt Giteau to play despite suffering a leg injury in last weekend's loss to the Springboks. New South Wales flyhalf Kurtley Beale was called into the squad as cover for Giteau.


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