Ono: Larkham doesn't have a weakness

(Rugby News Service) Wednesday 5 September 2007
By Shaunne Hughes
From Colomiers
Ono: Larkham doesn't have a weakness
Kosei Ono played for Christchurch Boys High School in New Zealand

COLOMIERS, 5 September - Japan's rookie fly half Kosei Ono believes Stephen Larkham (AUS) doesn't have any weaknesses as he prepares to confront the Wallabies star playmaker in Lyon on Saturday.

Larkham - with 101 Tests for Australia under his belt - made his IRB Rugby World Cup debut in 1999 while the 20-year-old Ono has been thrust into the playmaker's role following a knee injury to Japan's first-choice fly half Eiji Ando.

Ono, who has only four international caps to his name following his debut in April, has been brought up to speed on Larkham's attributes through detailed video analysis, but the diminutive fly half scoffs at any suggestion of a chink in the veteran's armour.

"He doesn't have any (weaknesses), he is a pretty solid player," said Ono, who has lived in New Zealand since the age of three, but recently returned to Japan.

"It is a privilege to play against someone of that calibre but we are not looking at individual players, we are looking at the Australian team in general during our preparation."

Larkham, 33, is expected to play in Australia's first two Pool B matches - against Japan in Lyon and a crucial clash with Wales in Cardiff - before being rested.

This gives Ono a golden opportunity to test himself against one of the world's best fly halves, although the Japanese backline will need to adjust to his style, which differs vastly to that of regular fly half Ando.

"I like to consider my kicking game as a strong point," Ono said. "Ando's got a very strong passing game."

RNS smh/sco/djp/kb/gs/