Rugby: Wallabies labelled 'whingers'

CARDIFF - The Wallabies have denied they're "whingers" as the British press have taken issue with complaints of playing their key rugby World Cup match against Wales in Cardiff.

Wallabies players and coaches this week suggested the Welsh had an unfair advantage by being at home for the pivotal pool B match on Saturday.

Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill then took a shot at the International Rugby Board and tournament organisers for allowing the game to be played outside host nation France.

Wales and Scotland both did deals with the French to help them gain hosting rights ahead of England in exchange for matches in Cardiff and Edinburgh.

London's Daily Mail was one of the UK newspapers to latch on to O'Neill's gripes and ran the headline "Wallabies whingers" today.

Asked if Australia were whingers, former Wales coach and current Wallabies assistant Scott Johnson said: "I'd choose to ignore that one but I'll say emphatically no."

Coach John Connolly, choosing his words carefully, stood by comments that Wales were fortunate to get hosting rights for a game set to decide the pool winner.

"I think it is an advantage to play at home," he said.

"I know in the Super 14 the home team wins 75-80 per cent of the time and that tells you something.

"I know in test matches we prefer to play in Brisbane rather than Auckland."

Meantime, Welsh coach Gareth Jenkins recalled the experienced trio of Gareth Thomas, Colin Charvis and Stephen Jones for the match at Millennium Stadium.

Charvis, who scored a try in the come from behind 42-17 win over Canada, will fill the blindside flanker role with Jonathan Thomas switching positions to No 8.

Thomas comes in at fullback and regains the captaincy while Jones replaces James Hook at five-eighth.

Jenkins insists his men are well aware of the importance of Saturday's match at the Millennium Stadium which he called the "biggest" of his reign.

Wales:

Gareth Thomas (capt), Mark Jones, Tom Shanklin, Sonny Parker, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Dwayne Peel, Jonathan Thomas, Martyn Williams, Colin Charvis, Alun-Wyn Jones, Ian Gough; Adam Jones, Matthew Rees, Gethin Jenkins.

Reserves:

TR Thomas, Duncan Jones, Michael Owen, Alix Popham, Mike Phillips, James Hook, Kevin Morgan.

- AAP

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