Eales skippers Wallabies' 'Team of the Decade'
August 4, 2005

John Eales has been named Captain of the Wallaby "Team of the Decade" which was unveiled in Sydney today.

Eales is one of six players who were the unanimous choice of a panel of thirty rugby journalists and commentators who were asked to nominate a starting XV and bench.

The unanimous six were John Eales, Toutai Kefu, George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Tim Horan and Matthew Burke.

The remaining players polled strongest in their respective positions.

ARU Managing Director Gary Flowers paid tribute to all players who have contributed to Australian Rugby in the professional era.

"It's a fantastic team perhaps reflected best by the high quality of the players who did not make the list. Overall there was widespread agreement in most positions with the voting very tight in some areas.

"Clearly, many struggled to separate Jason Little and Dan Herbert, who were both wonderful players in this era. Joe Roff, Ben Tune and Lote Tuqiri were also neck and neck in the eyes of our judges."

"John Eales should be congratulated on the captaincy. There's no question the triumph of the 1999 Rugby World Cup and the team's performances around that time weighed heavily on the judges' minds. George Smith has clearly made an impact in his time in Wallaby colours, as has Lote Tuqiri.

Mr Flowers said the Wallabies have emerged as a team with a truly national focus through the ten years the game has been professional.

"It's been wonderful to see Australia take ownership of this team over the ten years. In the next few weeks there are sellout Test matches to be played in Sydney and Perth."

The team is:
15. Matthew Burke, 14. Ben Tune, 13. Jason Little, 12. Tim Horan, 11. Joe ROff, 10. Stephen Larkham, 9. George Gregan, 8. Toutai Kefu, 7. George Smith, 6. Owen Finegan, 5. John Eales (c), 4. David Giffin, 3. Andrew Blades, 2. Phil Kearns, 1. Richard Harry.

Reserves: 16. Jeremy Paul, 17. Dan Crowley, 18. Nathan Sharpe, 19.Phil Waugh, 20. Chris Whitaker, 21. Dan Herbert, 22. Lote Tuqiri

A Decade of Fast Facts

1. Australia has played 112 Tests since Rugby went professional in 1996 for a winning percentage of 70.5%, a total of 79 victories, 31 losses and two draws.

2. Three men have Coached Australia over the last ten seasons, with Greg Smith, Rod Macqueen and Eddie Jones guiding the Wallabies to matches against New Zealand, South Africa, England, France, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Romania, Namibia, Pacific Islands, Canada, USA, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the British & Irish Lions.

3. Of the 112 Tests played by the Wallabies in the professional era, George Gregan has played in 101.

4. The team of decade includes seven players who have played more Test rugby in their position than any other Wallaby: Matt Burke, Tim Horan, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Toutai Kefu, John Eales and Phil Kearns.

5. The Team of the Decade has a total of 1,294 Test Caps between them. Interestingly the most capped Australian Test Team of all time is 633, in the 1999 Rugby World Cup Final, and the Mandela Challenge Plate Test in South Africa this season.

6. Australia has played New Zealand a total of 21 times during the professional era for a total of 10 victories, the first coming in 1998 in Melbourne.

7. Five members of the Team of Decade have captained Australia during the professional era, John Eales (55), George Gregan (43), Nathan Sharpe (2), Jason Little (1), Tim Horan (1) and Chris Whitaker (1).

8. Props Andrew Blades and Richard Harry are the only two forwards in the starting Team of the Decade who did or have not played 50 Tests or more for Australia.

9. In the starting backline alone for the Team of the Decade, between them they have scored a total of 151 Test tries.

10. Nine members of the Team of the Decade starting XV were involved in Australia's first ever Series win against the British and Irish Lions in 2001.

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