Wallabies Set Sights on All Blacks
The Wallabies will now set their sights on the All Blacks after comfortably disposing of the Springboks 29-20 in the Tri-Nations opener at ANZ Stadium.
The bonus point win will go some if the way to erasing the pain caused by the Wallabies embarrassing loss to Samoa a week prior.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said he was pleased with the toughness of the Wallabies effort.
“The boys got the job done well. They adjusted their mentality, they adjusted their body position and we played some great rugby this week,” Deans said.
“Obviously we had some combinations that came back together again and that all assisted. And those that were there last week were better for the hit out and these blokes probably got a bit of a shot over the bow as well to ensure that they came back in the right frame of mind.
“The set piece was good, the scrimmaging was good, and critically we got our shoulders down. Not only in defence but in attack we got some momentum, which these blokes enjoy.”
The Wallabies will now turn their attention to their upcoming clash with the All Blacks at Eden Park. The Wallabies have lost their past 11 matches in New Zealand, while they have not won at Eden Park in 25 years.
However despite the weight of history that is going against them, Deans believes his side has what it takes to upset the Tri-Nations and World Cup favourites.
“It’s great for us now. We get a week to regroup and really hone in and focus on that game. It’s a key game for us now. We haven’t had a lot of success at Eden Park, but we’ve got a great opportunity to really target that game and make the most of it,” Deans said.
One thing that may give Deans some confidence is the fact that the Wallabies broke a ten match losing streak against New Zealand, the last time the sides met – in Hong Kong.
While Deans admitted to believing the Wallabies were better placed to defeat the Kiwi’s than they have been in the last three years he also said ‘there’s no point in presuming that you’re going to be any further ahead in the game itself.’
After the spectacular performances of Quade Cooper and Will Genia on the weekend, Deans said he expected the Wallabies opposition to put extra time into devising plans to limit the destruction of the explosive pair.
“This just puts the pressure on every other Wallabies player to protect this pair as well as providing a diversion.”
James O’Connor wasn’t born the last time the Wallabies won at Eden Park, however the backline dynamo is looking forward to stepping onto the hallowed turf next week.
“It’s going to be awesome. Eden Park – where the World Cup is going to be played – so I’m really looking forward to it,” O’Connor said.
“I’ve only played there once. We were on the losing end that time, but it’s a whole new year this year. The All Blacks are setting the benchmark in test rugby so it’s going to be a special game.”
Kurtley Beale, who played fullback on the weekend, seems to be the only player in doubt for the clash against the All Blacks after suffering numerous injuries in the match against South Africa.
Beale entered Wallabies training yesterday with a twisted ankle, four stiches in his head, a black eye and with his arm in a sling thanks to the physical encounter against the South Africans.
“Kurtley’s a bit banged up. He probably came out of the game in the poorest shape of the group. I don’t think he’s ankle is too bad, so that should recover. His shoulder should also recover, but he’s just sore right now,” Deans said.
Beale is likely to be the only possible change for the match against the All Blacks in New Zealand, however Deans said that Luke Burgess and Salesi Ma’afu would more than likely gain a start in a Wallabies jersey for the following match against South Africa in Durban.
Deans also said that Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper and Drew Mitchell would come under consideration after the Wallabies returned from South Africa.
Deans also confirmed that Berrick Barnes, who returned to club rugby on the weekend, and Rob Horne, who will return to club rugby this weekend, were still in the reckoning for the world cup squad.