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Schifcofske on Wallabies' radar

Published: 8:18AM Friday September 15, 2006 Source: AAP

Wallabies coach John Connolly has insisted ageing code-crosser Clinton Schifcofske is on Australia's World Cup radar.

Connolly on Thursday took umbrage at views the Australian Rugby Union and test selectors had deemed Schifcofske to be too old for international rugby.

The former Canberra Raiders skipper debuts for the Queensland Reds in November on his 31st birthday and will almost be 32 by the time the World Cup rolls around in France next September.

Reds coach Eddie Jones was an outspoken critic of the ARU's initial reluctance to contract Schifcofske in June due to his age and lack of rugby experience.

He was finally given Queensland's "wildcard" contract, which includes a 60 percent top-up from the ARU, after the ARU upgraded halfback Sam Cordingley from a wildcard to a full contract.

Connolly said it was wrong to assume Schifcofske wouldn't be seen as a 2007 Test prospect if he performed well as a goalkicking winger for the Reds.

"He's on the radar for the World Cup and we're interested in looking at him if he plays well next year," Connolly said.

"He's 32 next year and that wouldn't preclude him."

"Contrary to previous stories we have contributed very strongly (to his salary)."

Jones believes the Queensland league fullback deserved to be viewed as a potential Wallaby because he had produced the goods in the final game of the 2006 State of Origin series.

"Any guy who can play well at State of Origin level can play for Australia in rugby," he said.

But Schifcofske, who doesn't possess the blinding pace the Wallabies are coveting, will have to leap over the top of at least six wingers to gain a gold jersey.

Lote Tuqiri, Clyde Rathbone, Mark Gerrard, Cameron Shepherd, Drew Mitchell and Digby Ioane all have age, rugby experience and greater pace on their side.

Connolly knows Schifcofske faces a tough ask to make an immediate conversion just in the Super 14.

As Queensland coach, he recruited Kangaroos winger Willie Carne in 1997 but the former Bronco struggled to adapt and only played a handful of games.

"Willie Carne came across, he played for Australia (in league) but struggled a little bit at rugby," he said.