Star-studded Barbarians to face Wallabies
December 1, 2008
Smit has been given the honour leading the Barbarians by former South Africa coach Jake White © Getty Images
South Africa captain John Smit will lead a star-studded Barbarians side against Australia in Wednesday's Olympic centenary clash at Wembley.
There is a strong South African flavour to the side with Smit joined in the starting XV by six of his World Cup-winning colleagues, including Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez and Schalk Burger. New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, fresh from Saturday's 32-6 victory over England, will make his first appearance for the Barbarians.
Welsh winger and world player of the year Shane Williams has been included on the bench alongside former Australia scrum-half George Gregan. South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White and Eddie Jones, his sidekick in that campaign, have kept with tradition by selecting Western Province loose-forward Nick Koster as the uncapped player.
White said: "This is one of the better Barbarians side there has been for a while and Eddie and I are really chuffed to get this group of players together. It has been nice for me to be with the (players I coached at the World Cup) but it has also been nice to coach players like Richie and Joe Rokocoko.
"Usually when I see them they are on the other side of the field! It is nice to see the players who usually smash into each other having an opportunity to play as a team and that is something unique in rugby. The important thing is that a number of these players haven't played for the Baa-Baas - players like Richie, Bakkies Botha, Jean de Villiers and John Smit - and I think it is wonderful they get the opportunity to play alongside such wonderful players.
"A guy like Sean Fitzpatrick was a great captain of New Zealand but never got the chance to play for the Barbarians and I am sure he would have loved to play in a team like this."
The match has been organised as part of the British Olympic Association's celebrations of the first London Olympics in 1908. Australia won the rugby gold medal at those Games with a 32-3 victory over Great Britain, who were represented by Cornwall.
Tickets will be available on the night and organisers are expecting a crowd at Wembley in excess of 50,000.
Barbarians team to play Australia at Wembley on Wednesday, kick-off 7.45pm:
P Montgomery; J Rokocoko, R Gear, J de Villiers, B Habana; F Steyn, F du Preez; F Pucciariello, J Smit, C Johnson, B Botha, J Muller, J Collins, S Burger.
Replacements: M Regan, R Blake, C Jack, N Koster, G Gregan, O Smith, S Williams.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
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