Russia’s Australian-born lock Adam Byrnes is braced for a big hit he knows is coming his way from former team-mates in Saturday’s World Cup match clash with the Wallabies.
Australia coach Robbie Deans wants no rough stuff as he can ill-afford to have his already injury-hit ranks depleted further by a red card, however the needle between Byrnes and the Wallabies has already started.
The 29-year-old Byrne, from the Melbourne Rebels and formerly with the Reds, qualifies for Russia through his maternal grandmother.
He is marked in Australian rugby circles as an aggressive player and Australian captain James Horwill, who previously captained Brynes at the Reds, said they were ready for for him.
“I’m sure with his type of game he’s hoping he gets an opportunity to square us up a little bit. We’ll be prepared for that,” Horwill said.
Scott Higgenbotham added: “He will probably have a special welcome for us.
“I always like to play that physical type of rugby and coming up against a guy like Adam Byrnes, if you get the chance to play against him.”
However, Byrne said he won’t be the one starting any off-the-ball activity.
“There’s 15 of them and there’s one of me,” he laughed Thursday when questioned about his reputation.
“I’ve got a holiday in Moscow after this. I’m going back with the boys. I’m going to spend some time in Russia and I’m really look forward to that experience as well so I hope they don’t bash me up too much.”
Byrnes said whatever happens on the field it will have no affect on the off-field friendships.
“We are mates off the field. Once the game’s on, it’s on, and afterwards we’ll relax and have a good time as well.”
Deans, however, does not believe any problems will emerge because his Wallabies know he does not tolerate giving away unnecessary penalties.
“Whether you know your opponent or not is irrelevant, the critical thing is how you manage yourself,” was his message to the team.