Deans Believes Tri Nations Will Be the Most Competitive Ever

James MortimerAnalyst IApril 21, 2009

LONDON - DECEMBER 03:  Mark Chisholm of Australia wins lineout ball during the 1908 - 2008 London Olympic Centenary match between The Barbarians and Australia at Wembley Stadium on December 3, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Going into Round nine of the Rebel Sport Super 14 the Australian teams have had an average season, especially by the standards of the former Crusaders multiple championship winning coach.

The Brumbies (ninth), Force (10th) and Reds (13th) have had dramatic highs and lows this season, and are only remote chances of figuring in the top four.

While the Waratahs are within the playoff equation, mockingly they have had a challenging season, with Australian media and fans still not being supportive of the “win at any cost” attitude displayed by the New South Welshmen. 

Coach Chris Hickeys early season promise of making the Waratahs an expansive attacking team has not appeared to have been borne true.

At the beginning of the season proper, Deans made a point to state that he would not be too actively involved with the respective Australian teams. 

This was viewed with mixed emotions as it is widely thought that the Canterbury legends constant presence will again make the Wallabies a world power and that it would be best if he was constantly interacting with the Australian rugby model.

He has though, been compiling an Australian monthly team, and has been asking the states to do the same.  It came with a simple criterion; that anyone selected in this outfit was good to go for test rugby.

The reality now that as the Super 14 heads towards its final month of regular season competition is that the Wallabies will assemble and play the Barbarians in just eight weeks.

Irrespective of the form or lack of from Australian sides, the reality is that the tried and true chant of Wallaby international rugby will be again be obvious. 

They may not have the enviable playing resources of South Africa and New Zealand, but they still have fifteen world class players capable of matching it with their Tri Nations opponents.

And for the Wallabies class of 2009, they will have a luxury unavailable to them last season.  Deans will not be stepping down from a Super 14 franchise to take the reins of the team with barely a few weeks preparation. 

He has been mounting his battle plans and formulating his assault on both the Tri Nations and Bledisloe, of which have eluded the Wallabies since 2001 and 2003 respectively. 

Certain players will not be available to Deans, as it has been stated that under 20’s first priority will be to represent Australia at the Junior World Cup in Japan.  This means that players such as centres Rob Horne and James O’Conner, will not be receiving immediate senior call ups.

Deans believes that the positions of concern are at fullback, centre, halfback, and tighthead prop. 

He believes that this is not the case for first five eighth, where Matt Giteau has been the class stand-off in the Rebel Sport Super 14.  After playing his early international career at second five eighth, Deans believes that the Western force superstar has found his feet, and looks “comfortable in his own skin”.

But surely, the daylight between such players as Giteau and Stirling Mortlock would be of some concern.

The Wallabies first test will be against the Barbarians at the Sydney Football stadium on June 6, before hosting Italy and France prior to the Investec Tri Nations.  

This will prove a tough assignment for Dean’s troops, with the Barbarians hosting a star studded lineup, including Sonny Bill Williams, former All Blacks Jerry Collins and Justin Marshall, as well as Rocky Elsom, Sergo Betson, and Martin Corry.

Potential Wallabies team

15- Mark Gerrard, 14 – Peter Hynes, 13 – Digby Ioane, 12 – Stirling Mortlock, 11 – Lote Tuqiri, 10 – Matt Giteau, 9 – Luke Burgess, 8 – Richard Brown, 7 – George Smith, 6 – Hugh McMeniman, 5 – James Horwill, 4 – Nathan Sharpe, 3 – Al Baxter, 2 – Stephen Moore, 1 – Benn Alexander

Wallabies test schedule

6 June 2009               Wallabies V Barbarians @ SFS, Sydney

13 June 2009             Wallabies V Italy @ Canberra Stadium, Canberra

20 June 2009             Wallabies V Italy @ Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

27 June 2009             Wallabies V France @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney

18 July 2009              All Blacks V Wallabies @ Eden Park, Auckland

8 August 2009           Springboks V Wallabies @ Newlands Stadium, Cape Town

22 August 2009         Wallabies V All Blacks @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney

29 August 2009         Wallabies V Springboks @ Subiaco Oval, Perth

5 September 2009      Wallabies V Springboks @ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

19 September 2009    All Blacks V Wallabies @ Westpac Stadium, Wellington