The Courier-Mail

WAL­LA­BIES SET TO WIG­GLE IT

- ROBERT CRAD­DOCK

THERE is sim­ply no ex­cuse for Wal­la­bies winger Drew Mitchell if he can­not han­dle the oc­ca­sional hot potato on the wing dur­ing the World Cup.

Not af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of a photo of him dress­ing up as one of the Wiggles who made the Hot Potato song fa­mous.

As the Wal­la­bies pre­pare for the World Cup in Eng­land, a new book called Liv­ing With The Wal­la­bies has given a be­hind-the-scenes look at life with the Aus­tralian rugby union side.

The Wiggles photo is one of more than 400 printed in the work re­leased last week and avail­able online at liv­ing­with­the­wal­la­bies.com. au

Among the most emo­tional were prop Ben Dar­win cry­ing as he pre­sented the jer­seys to the Aus­tralian team for the 2003 World Cup fi­nal against Eng­land in Syd­ney.

Dar­win had been forced into re­tire­ment by a neck in­jury sus­tained in the semi­fi­nal and wept openly as he spoke to the play­ers be­fore the ANZ Sta­dium fi­nal.

With the as­sis­tance of team mem­bers and sup­port staff the book was com­piled by for­mer Wal­la­bies media unit pro­ducer An­thony Ge­orge and pub­lished by In­ter­na­tional Quar­ter­back, where Ge­orge now works.

Ge­orge was be­hind the cam­era for 185 Tests be­tween 2001-14 and be­came so much a part of the team he was once asked to hand out the Test jer­seys be­fore a game.

“The book shows the hu­man side of the Wal­la­bies,’’ Ge­orge said.

“It was a priv­i­lege to be in­volved and the book cap­tures many spe­cial mo­ments.’’

Ge­orge Gre­gan eye­ing off a crocodile in a game park, An­thony Fain­gaa do­ing his twin Saia’s hair be­fore a match, for­mer coach Rob­bie Deans play­ing bowls and another coach, stone-faced Ewen McKen­zie, crack­ing a smile, are pic­tures which take the reader away from the ster­ile, repet­i­tive world they are used to.

There is also a photo of John Eales’ late grand­mother – known as Nonna to her grand­chil­dren – dressed up in Eales’ full Wal­la­bies kit in a photo the for­mer skip­per or­ches­trated af­ter re­turn­ing from Test duty.

He still cher­ishes it.

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