Australia's midfield strength a pointer to the future

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The Queensland-based pair are likely to play their third consecutive Test together against Argentina in the Investec Tri Nations finale on Saturday.

 

As Australia look to develop a long-term solidity in the midfield, and with the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023 in mind, they are seen by 1999 World Cup-winning second five-eighths Tim Horan as capable of being as established as he and Jason Little were at the turn of the century.

 

"They've got time to form a partnership and partnerships take time," Horan told rugby.com.au.

 

"You look at Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, you want to have different styles, and different strengths and weaknesses in a partnership. It's combinations, it's awareness, it's the ability to understand 90 per cent of the time what your partner's going to do. What's his favoured side of the field to run on, what's his preferred tackling side," he said.

 

Horan said Petaia was better at centre than on the wing because it gave him greater opportunity to be involved in play.

 

 

"I think they should swap and change a bit more to get Jordy a bit more involved coming in at 12," he said.

 

Reds team-mate James O'Connor said he had recognised the potential of the pair earlier in the year.

 

"The best element is that they complement each other. They can run short lines and out lines, but their strengths – without giving too much away of how we want to create our attack plan this week – literally complement each other.

 

"They can play up and down straight, they can get in those wide channels, they can both hit and one of the other big things they have [is] a pretty good understanding of each other and lines that they're manipulating defences with," he said.

 

They had their own ideas and were finding each other on the field more often not and there was almost a magnetic appeal in what they did, he said.

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