Weary Wallabies wobble into town
Two nights ago, Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper had a beautiful woman by his side - girlfriend and triple Olympic gold medal swimmer Stephanie Rice, whom he proudly paraded at the John Eales awards ceremony in Sydney.
Last night, he had a bunch of bone-weary Wallabies for company as they trooped into their Causeway Bay hotel at the start of their Hong Kong and northern hemisphere tour.
Cooper and the Wallabies flew in from Sydney for Saturday's DHL Bledisloe Cup encounter at Hong Kong Stadium. Their opponents, the All Blacks, were due in this morning.
'It doesn't seem that long ago, but here we are back in Hong Kong again,' coach Robbie Deans said yesterday. 'That [the 2008 Hong Kong Bledisloe Cup] was a great event, and we expect this one to be all of that again.'
It will be all business for the Wallabies after today's rest day. The players will meet their fans at So Kon Po today (from 11am to 1pm) at the Fan Day arranged by all three unions in a bid to boost ticket sales before getting down to the job at hand - how to break a 10-game losing streak against the All Blacks.
'It's a great opportunity for us obviously. We have not beaten the All Blacks in a long time but we have come close,' Deans said. 'They are a side playing with a lot of consistency, and their unbeaten streak [15 against all teams] is now close to unprecedented. They won't want to give that up, and certainly not to us.'
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory urged the public to take the opportunity of meeting both the All Blacks and the Wallabies today at the Fan Day. 'Everyone interested in meeting these world-class sportsmen can do so by buying a match ticket today,' Gregory said. More than 10,000 tickets are understood to still be available for the match.