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Usasz downbeat on captaincy debut

Updated: September 21, 2011, 02:21


WELLINGTON, New Zealand(AP) Some might call it strange.

Australia and the United States both name rookie captains on Wednesday for their clash at the Rugby World Cup. Both are scrumhalves.

One was born in Brisbane in Australia's Queensland state, the other lives there now. One remembers, while growing up, watching the other play for the premier team of his local club.

But Australian-born Tim Usasz, who will captain the American Eagles in their Pool C clash with the Wallabies, says making debut as captain against his homeland is "not weird at all.''

And Will Genia, who will become Australia's 78th test captain when he leads his team onto the field in Wellington on Friday, isn't making much of his knowledge of Usasz.

"I've never played against him. I know him,'' Genia said. "A lot of the boys call him The Russian for some reason.

"He was playing premier grade at a club in Brisbane called GPS when I was growing up. That's as much as I know about him.''

Usasz's ties to the Australia team are closer than Genia might think. He will act as groomsman when Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore is married in South Africa later this year.

But Usasz is also eager to play down the significance of his appointment as captain again his native land.

"It's obviously a little bit personal but it's just about trying to work hard in training as a team and hopefully put in a good performance,'' he said.

"Will (Genia) is probably the form halfback in the world at the moment. As an international player you always want to test yourself against the best guy and he probably is the best so it's a really good challenge. I'm looking forward to it.''

Asked how much he knew about the Wallabies, Usasz was equally cautious.

"I've certainly watched them a lot,'' he said. "A lot of the U.S. players have played with and against them over time.

"They're just one of those teams that at the moment that are really backing themselves and they're playing a lot of off-the-cuff rugby so they're going to be a tough match for us.''

Usasz remained resolutely downbeat on the prospect of playing a Rugby World Cup match against a two-time world champion team, the current world No. 3 and the country of his birth.

"It's big but it's probably a biggger deal for you guys (media),'' he said. "More than anything it's another game for us as a team.

"It does hold some personal significance but we're training and playing like every other game. So it will hold some personal signficance for me but at the end of the day it's just another game. I've got to go out there and do what I said I can do in every test match.''

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