Australia's Houston ready for Test lift off

Leroy Houston (Gallo Images)
Leroy Houston (Gallo Images)

Twickenham - Leroy Houston has waited 11 long years to fulfil his Wallaby dream and he admitted Friday there have been times when he feared he would never get the chance to play Test rugby.

The back-row forward's long wait for a full international debut will end if he comes off Australia's bench in the Rugby Championship finale against Argentina at Twickenham on Saturday.

Houston, who plays his club rugby for English Premiership side Bath, secured his place among the replacements after Australia coach Michael Cheika opted for a 6-2 split between forwards and backs.

The 29-year-old's inclusion means Sefa Naivalu has been omitted from the extended bench named on Thursday.

Houston, playing for southwest side Bath after the Queensland Reds allowed him to join on a medical loan, was first named in the Wallaby squad for the 2005 tour of Europe by then-coach Eddie Jones - now in charge of England.

Back then, as a star-struck 18-year-old, he played for Australia 'A' against the French Barbarians in Bordeaux.

"Back then I was a shy lad who didn't speak to much back in 2005 when I got to play and train with guys like Stephen Larkham," Houston told reporters at Twickenham on Friday. "And now I could make my debut, it's crazy.

"I was just playing rugby and never thought I would get back involved with the Wallabies.

"You do wonder if you would ever get the chance again but now it has I can't put it into words," explained the 6-foot-3, 114kg loose forward.

"Right now my emotions are running high and I just have to keep calm and do my best if I get off the bench."

He added: "It's been an emotional few weeks having gone back to Bath for a short spell. I love Bath and the people there because I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to them before, and now I can do it the right way. Now this with the Wallabies... at Twickenham and training with all the other guys...I'm just still on a high.

"I just can't wait to phone home and break the news to my fiancee, who's been waiting on the sidelines waiting for that call."

Australia captain Stephen Moore backed Houston to make an immediate impact, saying: "Leroy has done very well and deserves his big opportunity. We've kept a close eye on how he's gone over here in England with Bath and obviously with the Reds."

Moore expects another titanic collision with the Pumas' renowned pack in the first Rugby Championship clash to be held in the northern hemisphere.

"The pack combat is always crucial no matter who we are playing," said Moore, who skippered Australia to a 29-15 World Cup semi-final win over Argentina at Twickenham last year in a tournament where the Wallabies finished runners-up to New Zealand.

"It will play a big part in who wins the game as usual and we need to be at our best in that area."

Australia have lost six of their eight Tests since the World Cup, including an 18-10 defeat by South Africa in Pretoria last weekend, and Moore said: "We had a setback against South Africa and need to put things right.

"It's been a tough year for us but we are in a building process and we want to put in a good performance.

"The coach has made some changes but he has picked a side to do the job. Being back here at Twickenham is great, but we have moved on since the World Cup final last year."



15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo De la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Santiago González Iglesias, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Lucas Noguera

Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Gabriel Ascarate, 23 Lucas González Amorosino


15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Leroy Houston, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tevita Kuridrani

Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
46% - 4122 votes
11% - 1021 votes
18% - 1632 votes
2% - 184 votes
1% - 79 votes
2% - 186 votes
5% - 454 votes
8% - 700 votes
3% - 291 votes
Water sports
1% - 68 votes
American sports
1% - 69 votes
3% - 236 votes