Deans confident of good showing
16/07/2008 2:36:54 PM
Chris Pike

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans might be coaching his fourth Test match, but he knows the Tri Nations opener against South Africa will be the biggest possible challenge and he's confident of the Australians putting in a good showing in Perth.

The Test at Subiaco Oval on Saturday night will be the Springboks last before they head home on this trip, but after beating the All Blacks in Dunedin the World Cup winners will be on a high and Deans has opted for experience to try to beat them.

Lote Tuqiri, Wycliff Palu, George Smith and Nathan Sharpe return to the starting line up but Deans knows their experience will be worth little if they don't turn up ready to play.

"This is our first Tri Nations Test and we are conscious of the fact that it's going to be a step up from what we've encountered to date. When you get into those circumstances, to have as many blokes around you that have some kilometres on the clock is valuable," Deans said.

"It's valuable in that they have been there before, but that's probably where it ends. If they donít bring the enthusiasm and value from their previous experience forward and apply it well then it won't be much value at all."

Unlike some World Cup winning sides, the South Africans still look to be on the rise and that will obviously make it tough for Deans' side to get a win, with the Springboks also adapting well with a new game style under the ELVs.

"This is a very good mature Springbok side. They have a lot of experience, but are still in their prime and are still hungry to keep tucking away silverware. That's a pretty powerful combination," he said.

"They are only subtle differences because they are still Test matches, and believe me the physicality is still there, but they were a little more prepared to use the width of the ground and that makes them harder to defend against."

Deans feels the Boks could get an advantage having two Tests under the ELVs behind them while the Wallabies played against Ireland and France under the old laws, but he will be drilling into his players what they must be ready for.

"We've gone from playing Super 14 under the ELVs, then going back to the old laws for three Tests and that took a bit of adjustment, but going back the other way does have the potential to catch us by surprise in terms of instinct," he said.

"South Africa has played in two very fast Test matches that were at that pace from the start to finish, so they will hit the ground running and it's important that we spend longer contemplating what we are doing in terms of not passing back into the 22 and anticipating quick taps and throws."

While Berrick Barnes has overcome his shoulder injury, James Horwill a sore sternum after training on Tuesday and Sharpe, Palu and Tuqiri return from injury, Dan Vickerman hasn't quite overcome the injured ankle that has kept him out since the Super 14 final.

"Dan has done really well, but he's ahead of schedule. He wasn't anticipating that he would play at all before this weekend, but he has managed 80 minutes of club rugby and he became hopeful with the speed of his recovery," he said.

"It wasn't a realistic hope that he would play this week, though, and he will play club rugby again on the weekend. He might be a prospect next week, but there was no temptation to play him as it would have compromised him and us."

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