Gillard bemoans rugby ribbing from Key

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 07:49 09/09/2011

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has told the Wallabies they better do well so she can get back at John Key for his "perpetual abuse".

Gillard was due to attend at training session with the Australian team in West Auckland tomorrow.

A last minute change saw her meet with the team at SkyCity last night meaning she could rush back to Canberra, cutting short her time in New Zealand.

She told the players that Key had been using every opportunity to rib her about the All Blacks during the Pacific Islands Forum which both leaders attended this week.

"We better make sure we're in a position to be giving some mocking back at the end of all this."

She said Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was a "more gentle sort" and had not behaved the same.

"At every stage, I cannot describe it to you, any issue before the forum, any direction somehow Prime Minister Key would find a way of working in a sledge.

"I've had it for two days."

Captain James Horwill said they would try their best to give her some return ammunition.

The players asked her about the Forum and meetings with United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Gillard then had a lesson on how to throw the rugby ball from James O'Connor.

Australian coach Robbie Deans said Gillard's skills were not bad for a beginner.

He said it was great to be back in his homeland for the Rugby World Cup.

"It's the ultimate rugby destination."

The team were met by a group of school kids in gold tops at the airport.

"Not all of them were happy to be in gold I don't think, but the great thing is they were included, they're part of the tournament, and that's good for the game."

Gillard has been facing pressure at home over a number of key policies and low poll ratings.

Yesterday, she said her early departure was to allow a full working day in Canberra.

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