Rugby-Wales series perfect Wallabies warmup for All Blacks tests


Sun, 24 Jun 03:03:00 2012

Australia coach Robbie Deans believes the three-test series against Wales was the perfect preparation for the back-to-back tests against the All Blacks with which the Wallabies open the inaugural Rugby Championship in August.

The Wallabies wrapped up a 3-0 series sweep over the Welsh with victory by a single point in a third close test against the the Six Nations Grand Slam champions at the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS) on Saturday.

The players now return to their provinces for the climax of the Super Rugby season before regrouping for the start of the replacement for the Tri-Nations, which now features Argentina as well as New Zealand and South Africa.

Deans believes it will be the 'toughest ever' southern hemisphere championship and certainly Australia have been handed a forbidding start with tests against the world champions in Sydney on Aug. 18 and Auckland a week later.

"We couldn't have had a better opponent to prepare us for what's coming," Deans told reporters at the team hotel on Sunday.

"The Welsh play 80 minutes, they look to attack when they sniff an opportunity, turnover ball from their own goal line doesn't concern them, and that's classically New Zealand.

"Those are two key traits that New Zealanders possess and they're probably the two key traits we have to master in order to get home and then you've got all the other more obvious formal stuff, set piece and there's a lot we can do ...

"We can add some polish to what we're doing, there's no doubt we'll do that, but it's going to be the toughest Rugby Championship ever I think," Deans added.

"Year-to-year the ante just keeps going up. We know each other very well, we play each other a lot. We've been playing each other four times per annum since 2008."

Australia started the June test window with a shock 9-6 defeat to Scotland, albeit only three days after the last Super Rugby fixtures and in weather conditions that necessitated treatment for frostbite for some of the players.

Deans was furious at how his players had failed to finish off the Scots in that match and his mood cannot have been improved by media reports calling into question his position as Wallabies coach.

Victories by two and one points in the final two tests against the Welsh went some way to convincing Deans that his players were developing the "psyche" to do "what needs to be done to get a result".

"The Australian sporting character loves adversity and thrives on adversity and I think we've seen that this month, but it gets tested routinely so you can never presume," he said.

"I think there's been some really good indicators with this group that there's a substance to the group that's building. But you never arrive as such."


What is developing is a depth in the Wallabies squad and it was notable that the series win against the best team in the northern hemisphere was largely achieved without Australia's three brightest attacking talents - James O'Connor, Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper.

Beale returned at fullback for Saturday's third test and the other two of the "Three Amigos" should be fit for the Rugby Championship, where Australia are defending champions.

"I hope they're all available to us because they do have the ability to unlock sides, and to beat teams like the All Blacks and South Africa, you have to be able to do that," Deans added.

"Kurtley showed yesterday he can unlock a team, he unlocked the Welsh on a number of occasions.

"(There were) a number of line breaks he created that didn't finish. Part of that was rustiness on his part. He'll be better for that, so to add that 'X factor' back into the group is good, because there's been some good solidity around the rest of the group."

So could the Wallabies really register back-to-back victories against an All Blacks team that hammered Ireland 60-0 on Saturday?

"We are capable of it," Deans grinned, before adding: "But so are they."


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