Larkham: I can’t bear to watch World Cup tape

Wallabies fly-half Stephen Larkham has admitted he still suffers mental torture from Australia's agonising 2003 World Cup final defeat against England. [more]

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Wallabies fly-half Stephen Larkham has admitted he still suffers mental torture from Australia’s agonising 2003 World Cup final defeat against England.

The countries clash at Telstra Stadium next Sunday in their first Sydney showdown since Jonny Wilkinson’s extra-time drop-goal saw England crowned world champions more than 30 months ago.

And Larkham claims he continues to play the pain game after Australia’s World Cup hopes were shattered with just 26 seconds left of an epic encounter.

"I still haven’t watched the tape," he said.

"It does hurt too much, and it is a loss that is still in my mind. I don’t think any of us have got over it.

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"I haven’t seen the game, and I know a lot of the other guys who played that night still haven’t seen it either. I suppose we will all watch it at some stage, but I don’t really know if I want to."

Larkham is set to spearhead Australia’s back division against an England side that could feature only one survivor – Leicester lock Ben Kay – from their World Cup final starting line-up.

But while the England faces might be a lot different, Larkham has vivid memories of the moment Wilkinson lined up his glory kick.

"Wilkinson set himself pretty early for a field goal," Larkham told the Sun-Herald newspaper.

"We all knew it was going to be a field goal, we knew it was coming. I was defending right next to the ruck.

"Two rucks before, the half-back – I think it was (Matt) Dawson – had scooted past the bloke who was defending there because we were all so worried about the field goal.

"I was in that position this time. I couldn’t really chase Jonny Wilkinson because the gap would open up for Dawson again, and that was frustrating – the fact I knew what was going to happen, but I couldn’t do anything about it.

"He kicked it, and there was just this helplessness."

Australia smashed England 51-15 when they met in Brisbane two years ago – it was Sir Clive Woodward’s last game at the helm – with Larkham and company also strong favourites to win the forthcoming Test series 2-0, especially as their opponents are without numerous rested top players.

But the 82 times-capped playmaker added: "I don’t know if we can ever get revenge because I don’t think we are going to play against the same team again and in the same situation.

"We might win games against England during the next 16 months leading up to the 2007 World Cup, and we’ve beaten them since the last World Cup, but it still doesn’t change the result from that night. I suppose nothing can."

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