Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: 'Madness' returns for Wallabies

Hugh McMeniman. Photo / Getty Images.
Hugh McMeniman. Photo / Getty Images.

'Madness' is back in the Wallabies after three years in the rugby wilderness in Japan.

Abrasive blindside flanker Hugh McMeniman, the player known as 'Madness" has returned to deliver some physical onslaught against the All Blacks in tomorrow's start to the Rugby Championship.

Coach Ewen McKenzie has picked the form side he has seen in the Super 15 and on the training field for the Wallabies and dismissed the lack of international experience amongst his opening selection.

"It is performance oriented, a lot of Brumbies there who were playing two weeks ago and doing good things. We had one eye on that the whole time as we whittled away at this squad," he said.

"The guys in form, the guys doing well are the guys we have picked. It is a reward for performance."

McMeniman last wore Wallaby gold in 2008 before he left for a stint in Japan.
He might be a furious competitor on the field but he was very mild yesterday in his answers about his comeback to test rugby.

However his sights would be on dealing with All Black captain and putting him on the ground to take him out of the game.

"But it is hard to nullify such a good player as Richie is," he added, "but as a start you have to do that."

Toomua knew he was a long way off selection last year because of injury but this season had gone well for him as first five eighths with the Brumbies.

"It is exciting and a privilege but I am more focused on performance rather than getting too sentimental about the occasion at this stage," Toomua said.

"It is how I play and how we play as a team that matters the most."

Toomua said there had been no pressure in camp just bubbling excitement about the test series start under a new coach.

"He has played good football all year - that's a good starting point. He is a man for all occasions and got all the facets of the game covered," McKenzie said about his starting five eighths.

"We've had a spirited couple of weeks in camp and it's been very competitive."

Mogg was playing well and had shown that in a snapshot in his debut in the third Lions test. He was brilliant through the Super 15, was very fast and had a tremendously long left foot kick.

"Having seen a bunch of fullbacks over the years, he is a very good attacking player and he is one of the players who has really impressed me in the last few weeks. He's got more in him than I had seen and has done a really good job to win the spot."

McKenzie hoped to get a kickstart from the work that had taken the Brumbies to the Suer 15 final. They were match-hardened and ready to go and the team wanted to build on that sort of attitude.

Wallabies: Jesse Mogg, Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali'ifano, James O'Connor, Matt Toomua, Will Genia, Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper, Hugh McMeniman, James Horwill , Rob Simmons, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, James Slipper. Reserves: Tevita Kuridrani, Quade Cooper, Nic White, Ben McCalman, Liam Gill, Scott Fardy, Scott Sio, Sekope Kepu, Saia Faingaa.

- NZ Herald

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