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World Cup omission drives Dennis to greater heights

Ready to roll ... Dave Dennis with his Waratahs' player of the year award.

Ready to roll ... Dave Dennis with his Waratahs' player of the year award. Photo: Getty Images

DAVE DENNIS' agony at missing out on last year's World Cup squad has at last brought reward with selection to play the All Blacks for the first time in Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup opener at ANZ Stadium.

Dennis' promotion to the starting line-up as the blindside breakaway has been caused by the shoulder injury to Test No.8 Wycliff Palu forcing a back-row reshuffle. However Dennis' inclusion for only his second starting Test and fourth international cap is no surprise considering his exceptional form for the Waratahs this season.

Dennis was easily the Waratahs best player in a dreadful year, with the accolades coming last week when he won the province's best and fairest award. Clearly, the motivation was being overlooked for the Wallabies squad for last year's World Cup.

Dennis yesterday admitted that being a World Cup spectator was excruciating. ''That was tough, because you always think you're a chance and I didn't enjoy being overlooked that much. But at least missing out on the World Cup squad gave me the hunger to want to hang around for another four years,'' Dennis said yesterday.

''It's the ultimate for a player to be involved in a World Cup. For the next one I'll be 28-29 years old, so it's realistic for me.''

For the Waratahs this year, Dennis became one of their reliable workhorses, backing up and performing week in week out.

''Playing all 16 games for the Waratahs was a hard situation. It's not Test level, but it does put a strain on your body. With Rocky [Elsom] and a few other guys unavailable at the start of the year, it was what I had to do. So not having a game the last few weeks has been quite refreshing.

''I'm a proud New South Welshman, born and bred here. And each week I had that drive and the passion to play for my state, although we hadn't been winning games. It was the same with the other boys. But it was still a tough year. Hopefully next year is a bit better.

''Winning the Matt Burke Cup last week was special, but it was still a terrible year. The award was bitter sweet as it is a team sport, and I always think of it that way.''

Dennis understands disappointment after being forced to miss two seasons due to knee problems, before he was plucked from the Sydney University ranks to act as a back-up forward on the 2009 end-of-season Wallabies tour of Europe.

Dennis became a Test player in June when he started against Scotland, and then played off the bench against Wales. Wallabies coach Robbie Deans saw enough during that month to be convinced Dennis was ready to confront the world's No.1 team.

''Dave has been great. He showed during the June Tests he is an international player, and he's earned that right through good, consistent performances,'' Deans said yesterday.

It will also be the first time Dennis' back-row partner, Scott Higginbotham, will start against the All Blacks, and he is delighted to be at No.8. He revealed yesterday that midway during the Reds season, coach Ewen McKenzie asked him if he wanted to go back to breakaway. Higginbotham told the coach he preferred to stay at No.8.

''Things were working for me at No.8. I was getting around the corner a bit more in defence, which I wasn't doing as much when I was playing at No.6. I prefer to be in amongst it,'' Higginbotham said.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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