Wallabies Hard Man Elsom Set to Torment Boks

Article excerpt

BYLINE: ASHFAK MOHAMED

THE Wallabies received a huge boost yesterday when key forwards Rocky Elsom and James Horwill came through their first practice session in weeks yesterday morning. They are both likely to be fit for Saturday's Tri-Nations Test against the Springboks in Durban.

Blindside flank Elsom missed the Wallabies' 39-10 defeat to the All Blacks in Auckland with a foot ligament strain injury, while lock Horwill has been nursing a leg injury in the last few days.

Elsom's absence has affected the Wallabies lineout, and they struggled in that facet of the game against the All Blacks in their last Test in Auckland three weeks ago. Phil Waugh replaced Elsom in that match, but he is a fetcher instead of a ball-carrying blindside flank like Elsom.

While Wallaby coach Robbie Deans did not immediately declare Elsom and Horwill fit after practice at the Bishops school in Rondebosch yesterday, the players themselves were happy with their progress. Sam Cordingley also missed training yesterday with flu, but he is expected to be fit for Saturday's match. But fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper has not recovered from a hand injury and won't be considered, said Deans. Drew Mitchell is the favourite to wear the No 15 jersey, while Lachie Turner, Lote Tuqiri and Peter Hynes can also cover that position.

"Rocky and James both participated fully, but the critical thing will be whether they experience any pain or whether there is any setback as a result of that," said Deans.

"I don't know right now, and we probably won't know until the morning to be honest. But the fact that they participated is progress. Hopefully it is just a 24-hour thing with Sam's flu."

Elsom said that his injury did not flare up again. "It feels fine at the moment," he said. "I think I will be ready for Saturday. It should be fine." Horwill was also pleased with his effort in the training session. …