Genia sings praises of 'world-class' Bowe and 'conductor' Sexton
AUSTRALIAN scrum-half Will Genia has highlighted Tommy Bowe as one of the major threats the Lions pose in today's game.
Bowe has been included in the Lions team ahead of one of last week's try-scorers, Alex Cuthbert, after recovering from the hand injury sustained in the warm-up game against the Queensland Reds three weeks ago.
Bowe will wear a hurling glove for protection. His inclusion in the team is one of the selections that most interests the Wallabies ahead of a game they must win to take the series to a decisive third Test in Sydney.
"Tommy Bowe's world-class isn't he? We know what he's capable of and that he's made an immediate return to the team shows how highly regarded he is," said Genia.
"He was excellent in the games he played in before the injury and he is one of their big-game players."
The stresses and strains of the week were etched on captain James Horwill's face when he faced the assembled press on the eve of the game.
If Horwill wasn't batting away questions about the IRB's unprecedented decision to appeal the result of the Australian captain's disciplinary hearing, he was fielding ones about the late night adventures of James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale.
The play-makers were photographed in a fast-food outlet at 4.0 on Wednesday morning. They didn't break any team protocols, but there was no doubting the captain took a dim-view of their behaviour.
"We'll deal with that issue privately, after the series," said Horwill. "We haven't spoken about it and have not let it distract us.
"This is too big a game for any distractions. We desperately want to retain the Tom Richards Cup. If we are to do that we need to win the second Test. That's been our sole focus this week."
It was hugely interesting that of the Lions players Genia, in particular, spoke about Irish duo Bowe and Jonathan Sexton were two of those he most respected.
"Sexton has great composure," he said. "I watched him a bit and he is very decisive when making decisions and calling plays.
"He's not afraid to get stuck in to his forwards either. There was one incident during the game I remember him having a go at the captain Sam Warburton for not being where he wanted him and he let him know it.
"He's the conductor for them and on top of that he has an exceptional kicking game. From what I've seen he rarely has a bad kick."
The views coming from the assembled Aussie players – Genia, Horwill and hooker Stephen Moore – were focused on the match and the repeated attempts to broaden discussion beyond the playing pitch were firmly deflected.
There were occasions when the cool facade being portrayed slipped and the body language from, in particular, Moore was one of controlled anger and frustration whenever the questioning reverted to either Horwill's new hearing next week or the late night exploits of Beale and O'Connor.
"I can't keep answering questions about the same thing," Horwill snapped at one stage.
Moore visibly squirmed in his seat when O'Connor and Beale were mentioned and it's clear that while the pair didn't break any team protocols, they will face repercussions after the series.
Away from the controversy the intent within the Aussie players was evident, as was the confidence they have in their ability to turn around the series.
They firmly believe that, under exceptionally trying circumstances, they absorbed the best the Lions had to offer and were still one kick away from stealing victory.
The performance of their scrum in the second half is a particular source of confidence to them.
"We were very strong in those last scrums," said Moore. "There really was only one scrum when they got a great hit on us.
"Aside from that we did ok and we were certainly on top in the second half."
Australia will take great confidence from the Class of 2001.
They also lost the first Test in Brisbane, but wrestled control back at the same stadium in the second game ... which might serve as a salutary lesson for the Lions.