Veterans hunt young prey in Global Tens pool games

Carlos Spencer was among the winners in the early rounds of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens

It’s a young man’s game but the old heads will have an influential say over the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens as the tournament heads into finals day on Saturday.

The Blues, featuring 42-year-old former All Black Carlos Spencer, the Crusaders and Liam Messam’s Chiefs are among the teams to beat after the opening stage of the two-day tournament at Suncorp Stadium.

Both are undefeated after two pool games, with the Blues tallying the tournament’s highest single game score in their 47-10 demolition of the Wild Knights from Japan.

Wildcards Spencer, Adam Freier (Rebels), Pita Alatini (Highlanders), Drew Mitchell (Waratahs) and Carl Hayman (Pau) were barely sighted on the opening day.

The Brumbies’ Andrew Walker, however, looked like he never left the club.

His silky hands and ability to materialize in the right place at the right time have never left the 44-year-old.

“I’ll get up in the morning and keep going because I just love it,” Walker said.

“If I stop I’ll crumble.”

Spencer booted three conversions in his side’s romp against the Wild Knights.

He spent most of his second-half minutes anchored to the wing but it would have warmed the hearts of the Blues fans to see him once more in the jersey he served with distinction in Super Rugby.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” said the 35-Test All Black.

“To get out there with so many youngsters, it’s been awesome.

“I reckon this game would have suited me back in the day.

“Being back in this environment is a privilege.”

Another former All Black, Conrad Smith, is no wildcard, still among a handful of Kiwis representing Pau.

It was a tough night for his outfit, losing matches against the Waratahs (31-10) and the Chiefs (31-7) but he relished the opportunity to face some old mates for the last time.

“It’s a bit too fast, especially for a 36-year-old. I tried to slow it down as much as I could but it’s a great concept,” Smith said.

“Coming back here and seeing guys like (Messam) … some of the coaches are closer to our age than the payers.

“When you’re playing in France you miss that.”

While the Crusaders fielded a squad barely recognisable from its great teams of the past, they signed off on the opening night as the team to beat.

In their two games they conceded just seven points while amassing combined 53.

Of the Australian teams, the Rebels, Waratahs and Brumbies each claimed one win, while the Reds finished the night winless.

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Based in Canberra, the Brumbies have become a central part of Australia’s rugby landscape since the club’s Super 12 tournament debut in 1996. They have reached five Super Rugby finals in that time, claiming overall victory on two occasions.