Deans to stick with same team


CARDIFF, November 2 – Australia coach Robbie Deans is contemplating sending out the same side that beat New Zealand last weekend when his team begin the European leg of their tour against Wales here on Saturday.Deans, a former New Zealand international, gave the Wallaby team that ended the All Blacks’ 15-match unbeaten run with a 26-24 victory in Hong Kong a clean bill of health here on Monday.

That left Warren Gatland, the Wales coach and a fellow Kiwi, pondering how to stop the likes of James O’Connor, Quade Cooper and Matt Giteau to name but three of Australia’s attacking threats.

"We will pick what we deem to be our best line-up against Wales to hopefully perform and get a result," Deans told reporters here on Monday.

"It appears we have come through the New Zealand game unscathed and have the potential to name an unchanged side, which makes a change.

"Continuity is starting to serve us. Those who played in Hong Kong have done their chances of being selected on Saturday no harm."

Australia thrashed Wales 33-12 at the Millennium Stadium last season with an impressive display of fast, powerful and precise attacking rugby.

But the Wallabies are the only Tri-Nations side Wales have beaten in nine attempts during Gatland’s time in charge, 21-18 in 2008, although the sides did play out a 26-26 draw in Cardiff two years prior to that.

"If we were to make any presumptions about Saturday, it would be to our disadvantage," Deans said. The result against New Zealand will benefit the side and there is a fair bit of relief.

"But Wales played very well in New Zealand in the summer, far better than the scoreboard indicated. They played a lot of good rugby, but they did not get a lot of reward for it."

Fly-half Cooper will look to dictate play on Saturday but Deans said the rising star might face a different test against Wales than that he was used to when playing fellow southern hemisphere giants New Zealand and South Africa.

"The challenge for Quade will be different to that in the Tri-Nations, and he had an insight into that in our last outing against England," explained Deans in a reference to the Wallabies’ 21-20 loss in Sydney in June.

"Teams will choose tactics which suit them and deny the opposition. England were successful in denying us in Sydney.

"Warren will have seen that and be hatching some plans."

Meanwhile Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards promised the hosts would "have a crack" against Australia even though they are set to be without four first-choice players in backs Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Davies, as well as back-row Ryan Jones.

"Obviously, they (Australia) are a very formidable outfit at the moment," Edwards said.

"The last two Test matches we’ve had against them, we’ve won one and they were very dominant in the last one, which still hurts.

"It is something that (Wales captain) Matthew Rees spoke about this week. We are still hurting from that defeat.

"I thought in the Tri Nations this year, they (Australia) were the team playing the most rugby.

"They are coached by one of the best coaches (Deans) of all time, and they are an incredibly difficult team to defend against.

"But we are up for the challenge. We are very determined to redress what happened last time against them and to repeat what happened the time before."