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Thread: Wallabies target a trophy feast

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    Wallabies target a trophy feast

    Wallabies target a trophy feast

    June 5, 2010

    THE Wallabies open their 2010 Test campaign against Fiji in Canberra tonight desperate to replenish their trophy cabinet with meaningful silverware.

    Australia hasn't won a Bledisloe Cup since 2002 or the Tri Nations since 2001 and skipper Rocky Elsom and coach Robbie Deans bristled yesterday when it was suggested they hadn't challenged for major spoils in the past two seasons because they were rebuilding.

    ''There's never a time that we haven't wanted to win those trophies.'' Elsom said. ''There's never a time that we've said that we're rebuilding this year so we'll just have to do the best we can. That's always the goal for us. We always want to win those trophies, particularly those two. We're hungry.''

    Deans was also eager to set the record straight, intervening with: ''Rebuilding has never been in our language. The reason for that is, when you play a Test match it only happens once and for those players who are lucky enough to have that opportunity, it lasts for 80 minutes and you've got to live with that experience for the rest of your days. And those who come to watch don't care how long you've been there and that's the way it should be. So we're chasing wins.''

    Fiji is not expected to truly test the Wallabies, but Elsom certainly isn't treating the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalist with any disrespect.

    ''Fijians are always good athletes,'' said Elsom, who will lead Australia for the first time on home soil in his milestone 50th Test. ''They have very quick feet and are very agile and they enjoy the unstructured play more than most.''

    Much home interest will centre on the performance of Australian Super 14 player of the year Quade Cooper, who will line up at five-eighth in a Test for the first time.

    Deans said there'd been no visible change in the dazzling playmaker's demeanour since Cooper on Tuesday edged out Matt Giteau for the No. 10 jumper. ''That's probably a refection of his growth. He's taking things in his stride now,'' Deans said. ''The dynamic in the back line has been good. The boys are enjoying running off him, playing outside him.''

    There is also much anticipation about the debut of classy young outside centre Rob Horne. ''Everyone's pretty excited to see how Rob Horne goes. It's like you don't see him enough. He's had various injury worries but he's definitely a talented player,'' Elsom said.

    ''You can be excited about the ability of the whole back line. All of them provide a lot of genuine spark. How they perform is up to them and we'll probably know more in four weeks but, potentially, it's one of the best Wallabies back lines I'll have played with.''

    Deans doesn't see picking form players as fresh approach

    GREG GROWDEN
    June 5, 2010


    IF ALL five Wallabies newcomers take the field against Fiji at Canberra Stadium tonight, including the two novices on the bench, Robbie Deans will have blooded 21 new players to the Test arena since taking over as head coach three seasons ago.

    That is new broom stuff. But don't tell Deans that amounts to rebuilding. He bristles at the mention of the word. It is not rebuilding. As far as the Wallabies coach is concerned, whoever is in the Test team - regardless of whether they are a debutant or a 10-year veteran - is there because they are the best around. Test triumphs always remain the No.1 priority for Deans, not trying to completely revamp a team.

    ''Rebuilding has never been in our language,'' Deans said. ''The reason for that is the reality is that when you play a Test match, it only happens once. And for those players lucky enough to have that opportunity, it lasts 80 minutes, and you have to live with that experience for the rest of your days.

    ''Those who come to watch don't care how long you've been there. And that's the way it should be. We are chasing wins.''

    Nonetheless, there will be great interest in how several newcomers perform, and if they are ready to be a critical part of the Wallabies new generation at the World Cup next year. So much will hinge on how new outside-centre Rob Horne performs.

    Due to his long-running hamstring problems, Horne was used cautiously at training this week to ensure that he is in peak condition for his first run-on start. If Horne performs well in his head-to-head duel with Fijian centre Rupeni Caucaunibuca, he can certify himself as the man to take over from Stirling Mortlock as the established Test No 13.

    ''We've talked a lot about Rob's qualities, and he is a natural outside-centre,'' Deans said. ''He is a specialist, and can also play at No.12. He's probably played more at No.12 through his age-group rugby than No.13. But he's obviously at home at No.13, and he's going to be good for us. He's a guy who straightens things up both in attack and defence. He's got foot speed, and that's handy both with and without the ball.''

    The other newcomers are hooker Huia Edmonds, prop Salesi Ma'afu and, on the bench, hooker Saia Faingaa and back-rower Matt Hodgson.

    Deans is also working hard on those who have featured more regularly in the Wallabies strip and require help with their core skills. At the end of yesterday's captain's run at Canberra Stadium, Deans spent more than 10 minutes with the Test halfback Luke Burgess working on his technique, in particular passing the ball directly from the ground.

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    There is not a minute to lose

    Bret Harris From: The Australian June 05, 2010 12:00AM

    THERE are 1520 minutes of Test rugby to be played before the Wallabies embark on their 2011 World Cup campaign in New Zealand.
    That seems like a lot of time to prepare, but it only equates to 19 matches, 15 of which will be played this year.

    In this time-frame, coach Robbie Deans will try to develop his young and ambitious team into genuine contenders for the Webb Ellis Cup.

    Just like South Africa in France in 2007, the Wallabies must arrive in New Zealand thinking like world champions. Deans recently noted that the Wallabies have not won anything since 2001, although he qualified that statement by acknowledging they had retained the Bledisloe Cup in 2002 and collected the odd trophy for one-off Test wins against countries such as England, France, Ireland, Wales and even South Africa.

    Apart from "Bill" himself, the ARU's trophy cabinet is not really regarded as well-stocked unless it contains one or both of the two glittering prizes of southern hemisphere rugby, the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations Trophy.

    "We are conscious of that and aware of that and based our program around that," Deans said of the time remaining for the Wallabies before the World Cup. "We hope to achieve a lot in that time.

    "We've won everything bar the two critical pieces that we really covet, which is the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri-Nations.

    "That's what we will be striving for and clearly we are capable of it, but so is any one of the three sides.

    "We believe we are more capable of it than the past two years."

    The Wallabies begin their journey to New Zealand with a Test against Fiji in Canberra tonight.

    While they are expected to beat the Flying Fijians, the match will help to hone their style of game for the important Tests against England and Ireland and it will teach them not to underestimate any opponent, a lesson they will need to heed in the World Cup pool games.

    "That's right, but more so it's about respecting the opportunity we've got," Deans said. "You have to make the most of it. That aside, it's important because it's our first outing and we've got some toughies coming and we want results."

    Three players are making their Test debuts tonight - hooker Huia Edmonds, prop Salesi Ma'afu and outside centre Rob Horne, while Kurtley Beale is making his run-on debut at fullback.

    If reserves Saia Faingaa and Matt Hodgson get on the field tonight, Deans will have introduced 21 players to Test rugby in just over two years, but he rejected the suggestion the Wallabies were in a rebuilding phase.

    "Rebuilding has never been in our language," Deans said. "We are chasing wins.

    "They've come together really well.

    "We have the benefit of a certain amount of background with a core of the Test group. That has been evident. Hopefully, it will be evident tomorrow."

    While Deans is developing an ensemble game involving all 15 players, the linchpin will be new five-eighth Quade Cooper, who has taken over the chief playmaking role from Matt Giteau, who has moved to inside centre.

    Cooper has grown as a player and a person since an off-field incident on the Gold Coast last December that resulted in his arrest on a burglary charge.

    The way Deans wants the Wallabies to play depends so much on Cooper's ability to orchestrate the attack with his flat running and brilliant passing.

    Deans said the fact there had been no change in Cooper's demeanour since his switch to five-eighth was a reflection of his development.

    "He is taking things in his stride more," Deans said. The boys enjoy running off him and playing outside him."

    Cooper will not have the benefit of his Queensland Reds halves partner Will Genia passing him the ball, but Luke Burgess, whose service can be erratic.

    Deans spent a lot of time with Burgess at the end of the captain's run at Canberra Stadium yesterday, showing him ways to improve his passing technique.

    If the crucial link between the forwards and backs breaks down, the Wallabies' game plan will come unstuck.

    "We were just talking about his game," Deans said.

    "Routine. We were just working on his game."

    Genia will resume full training next week and is expected to play in the second Test against England in Sydney on June 19.

    0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
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