Ella back in the Wallabies' fold
October 8, 2010
Ella casts an eye over a Wallabies training session in Sydney earlier this week © Getty Images
Australian rugby legend Mark Ella has returned to the Wallabies' set-up for the first time since retiring in 1984.
The former fly-half, capped 25 times by his country, joined the national team's preparations for their forthcoming tour of Europe following an invite from coach Robbie Deans. The 51-year-old had not had any contact with the international set-up since hanging up his boots in the wake of the Wallabies' 1984 Grand Slam tour.
"I was never asked back, that was it, so that's fair enough," Ella told the Daily Telegraph. "I wasn't sitting around waiting for the phone call, put it that way. I've been out of rugby for a long time but it's good to be asked to training officially and good to work with a lot of talented players."
Ella offered some advice on the players' attacking game while Manly coach Phil Blake, whose team had the best defence in the Sydney premiership this season, also contributed to the session.
"It was a basic skills session for about 20 minutes - catch and pass," Ella said. "There was nothing too complicated about it, these guys would have done this a thousand times. It was basically making sure they hit the ball straight, that their alignment was right and their speed on to the ball was right."
Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia welcomed Ella's input. "It's very special to have a player of his stature and ability to come and help the boys out," he said. "Even little drills he showed us had a real impact and effect on the boys - we just got better throughout the session."
In related news, Australian Rugby Union chief John O'Neill has backed the Wallabies to end their 10-game losing streak against the All Blacks in Hong Kong on October 30. "Make no mistake. These are the two best teams in world rugby. The All Blacks are number one and the Wallabies, sadly, number two and they will be at absolute full strength for this match," O'Neill told AFP.
"We haven't beaten the All Blacks for some time but there's an old saying in sport, 'ding dong the witch is dead'. Hopefully on October 30 we'll be able to say it loud and clear."
Organisers said that around 20,000 tickets had been sold out of 38,000 available.
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