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Kuridrani set to face BOD challenge

12th November 2013 05:59

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Tevita Kuridrani Aus v NZ BC 3 2013

In fine form: Tevita Kuridrani

Wallabies boss Ewen McKenzie believes rookie outside centre Tevita Kuridrani will do well when he faces Brian O'Driscoll in Dublin on Saturday.

O'Driscoll is widely recognised as one of the game's best ever centres and will win his 135th Test cap in his 15th and final season for the men from the Emerald Isle this weekend.

Should he also play the Six Nations tournament, O'Driscoll could surpass George Gregan (139 Tests) as the most capped rugby international.

Kuridrani and Brumbies team-mate Matt Toomua - who are both Test novices - could line up against O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy, who are one of the most experienced midfield combinations in the history of the game, as Australia aim for their first back-to-back win of 2013.

McKenzie has admitted that the disparity in experience could see him switching 89-Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper from the wing to outside centre.

"It's a good question for myself," McKenzie told AAP.

"If I take [Kuridrani] out of there then I'm not backing him and he may feel I don't think he's up to it.

"I know they're not the finished article (Kuridrani and Toomua) but I back them and I've been backing them all season and now they're starting to deliver and enjoy that level."

McKenzie feels Kuridrani has improved since battling in his run-on debut against South Africa in Cape Town during the Rugby Championship.

"He's scoring tries and he's difficult to handle and he's actually a very good tackler and he reads the defence very well," he added.

"There's a real good opportunity (against O'Driscoll) to learn and do well so it's exciting."

Although 34-year-old O'Driscoll was dropped for the series-deciding Test, while on duty with the British and Irish Lions, McKenzie is still wary about his attacking ability.

"He's got a real street smartness of how he goes about it," he said. "He's got a lot of tricks out there.

"It's going to be a real challenge for us because whoever is going to be in front of him is probably only going to have a handful of Tests under his belt.

"Whoever we play, it's going to be a little bit daunting for our guys but a good challenge."

O'Driscoll is widely recognised as one of the game's best ever centres and will win his 135th Test cap in his 15th and final season for the men from the Emerald Isle this weekend.

Should he also play the Six Nations tournament, O'Driscoll could surpass George Gregan (139 Tests) as the most capped rugby international.

Kuridrani and Brumbies team-mate Matt Toomua - who are both Test novices - could line up against O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy, who are one of the most experienced midfield combinations in the history of the game, as Australia aim for their first back-to-back win of 2013.

McKenzie has admitted that the disparity in experience could see him switching 89-Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper from the wing to outside centre.

"It's a good question for myself," McKenzie told AAP.

"If I take [Kuridrani] out of there then I'm not backing him and he may feel I don't think he's up to it.

"I know they're not the finished article (Kuridrani and Toomua) but I back them and I've been backing them all season and now they're starting to deliver and enjoy that level."

McKenzie feels Kuridrani has improved since battling in his run-on debut against South Africa in Cape Town during the Rugby Championship.

"He's scoring tries and he's difficult to handle and he's actually a very good tackler and he reads the defence very well," he added.

"There's a real good opportunity (against O'Driscoll) to learn and do well so it's exciting."

Although 34-year-old O'Driscoll was dropped for the series-deciding Test, while on duty with the British and Irish Lions, McKenzie is still wary about his attacking ability.

"He's got a real street smartness of how he goes about it," he said.

"He's got a lot of tricks out there.

"It's going to be a real challenge for us because whoever is going to be in front of him is probably only going to have a handful of Tests under his belt.

"Whoever we play, it's going to be a little bit daunting for our guys but a good challenge."

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1New Zealand628
2South Africa619
3Australia69
4Argentina62