Brisbane to put Aussies on winning way – Elsom
Australia are locked-on favourites to dump the Lions and extend their southern hemisphere touring misery, former Leinster ace Rocky Elsom has claimed.
Elsom, the 30-year-old Australian who helped steer Leinster to Heineken Cup glory in 2009, warns that the Brisbane factor could prove crucial as the countdown begins to Saturday's first Test at Suncorp Stadium.
He revealed that Brisbane is the Wallabies' favourite Test ground in Australia. And their record – 14 wins from the last 16 Tests – backs up that view.
Elsom (pictured) warned: "You know when a team is up for it and coming at you. That will be the Lions' biggest problem on Saturday because make no mistake, the Wallabies will be ready. They'll be up for it OK.
"I am very confident about the Wallabies winning in Brisbane because of their record there. Whenever I have been there with the team, the boys have always played a lot better. Don't ask me why, but the facts support such a view.
"If there was ever a match Australia needed to win, a match they had to play for their lives, they'd play it in Brisbane. And that may explain why the first Test is being staged there because it's hard to see either side losing the first Test but coming back and winning the next two. Saturday should be crucial in the series."
The tough back-row man, who has just penned a contract with new Heineken Cup champions Toulon, brushed aside suggestions that Australian coach Robbie Deans may have blundered by taking his best players out of the firing line for the Lions' build-up matches.
"That's the way I would have done it. People suggest they might be ring-rusty but I find it hard to think they would be ring-rusty after just three weeks. I don't believe that happens."
Yet conversely, Elsom thinks the Lions' defeat to the Brumbies this week could work in their favour. "It's definitely a wake-up call for them. But if anything, that loss will spark the group. So it is probably a positive for them.
"A loss can sometimes help," he said.