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McCabe looking forward to reunion

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Sportal.co.nz     22 Jul 2011     Getty Images

McCabe was a member of the star-studded 2005 schoolboys side that also included Wallabies stars Kurtley Beale and David Pocock.

He came off the bench and played at fullback in that promising line-up, but the hard-running Brumbies utility will be in the front line against South Africa this weekend after he was picked ahead of veteran Matt Giteau.

The 22-year-old admits he's still learning his new position having played just three Investec Super Rugby matches at No.12.

But with arguably the best halves pairing in world rugby on his inside, McCabe is heading into his maiden Investec Tri Nations encounter feeling more excited than nervous.

"Just the way Quade plays, in some ways it takes pressure off me just with the way he communicates and organises things," McCabe, who made both his Super Rugby and Test debut in 2010, said.

"So it just allows me to concentrate on what I'm doing ... and just to run off those guys is a pretty good experience.

"I played with both of them once at school. It's been a while but it felt pretty natural at training and hopefully I think it should work well on Saturday night.

"He [[Cooper] runs different lines and sort of plays around more than anyone I've ever played with – it took a little bit of getting used to.

"But I think he's very good in the sense that if you run into a hole he'll generally find you, so I'll just probably give him a bit more depth and just once I pick a line just run hard."

McCabe added that having Brumbies team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper lining up at centre against the 'Boks is also a big help.

"Obviously having someone who you've spent a lot of time with through the Super Rugby season, it just feels a lot more comfortable and I'm obviously a lot more used to the way he defends and the lines that he likes to run," McCabe explained.

"Even just having someone familiar next to you it helps to settle the nerves a little bit I think."

But McCabe is under no illusions as to the challenge that awaits him in the form of the Springboks midfield.

While the tourists have controversially left 23 front-line players at home for the Tri Nations opener, his opposite number Wynand Olivier and first five-eighths Morne Steyn have both been fixtures of the full-strength Test team in recent years.

"They're quality players, I think Olivier obviously brings that direct, strong running and he's obviously very familiar with the way Morne Steyn plays, so I think they'll have a very good combination," he said.

"I haven't played a lot against outside-centre Juan [de Jongh] but he's obviously got really good footwork, a big left-foot step and he played very well for the Stormers this year, so they'll be very dangerous."