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Douglas primed for the fiery French

Date: November 08 2012


Georgina Robinson

PARIS: For Kane Douglas, the prospect of facing the fierce French pack is something to savour, not fear.

''I think all us boys will love that, we like playing physical and hitting rucks and things like that, it's going to be a good match,'' Douglas said before a training session that indicated he will start against the French on Saturday.

One of 12 players to wear the gold jersey for the first time this year, Douglas appears likely to inherit the starting spot from Sitaleki Timani, who has a lower-back complaint and was restricted to non-contact work at training in Paris on Tuesday.

Reds lock Rob Simmons is also in the frame but it was Douglas who partnered captain Nathan Sharpe in the final four Tests of the Rugby Championship, when Timani was not available there.

Douglas, who, if selected, will make his fifth start for Australia since his debut less than two months ago, said matches against Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand had prepared him well for the challenge up front and he thrived on the physical encounter. ''A little switch goes off in your head and you're just like 'Let's get into this, let's go and hit some rucks and get a few guys out of there,''' he said. ''I love it.''

The rest of the starting pack may remain unchanged, with the exception of Radike Samo, who is touring in place of the suspended Scott Higginbotham, and Sekope Kepu, who could challenge James Slipper for the starting tight head spot.

Stephen Moore is likely to cap a return from hamstring problems with selection on the bench in support to Tatafu Polota-Nau; rookie James Hanson is likely to miss out on the 22. Coach Robbie Deans will err on the side of caution with breakaway David Pocock and prop Ben Alexander, while a decision on go-to winger Digby Ioane may be delayed.

Pending that decision, Deans appears to be leaning towards giving the Wallabies backs a reprieve from further positional upheaval.

The back line that ran at the squad's first heavy training session on Tuesday featured Nick Phipps at halfback, Kurtley Beale in the playmaking role, Pat McCabe and Ben Tapuai partnering in the midfield, Nick Cummins and Adam Ashley-Cooper on the wings and Mike Harris at fullback. Of those seven, only Adam Ashley-Cooper remains from the team that last played the French at the end of 2010.

Tapuai, who is the latest in a growing list of outside-centres, said he was loving his time in the sun.

''It's obviously an honour to put on that jersey and to be in the starting line-up it's a big deal for me because it's a thing you don't want to let go,'' he said. '' … You've just got to keep turning up to each training session each week and keep performing when you put that jersey on.''

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