Wales put Wallabies coach Deans on edge
Wales may be missing the brains behind their scintillating form with coach Warren Gatland injured, but Wallabies boss Robbie Deans is taking nothing for granted ahead of Junes's three-Test series.
The Dragons head Down Under with caretaker coach Rob Howley at the helm after Gatland broke both his heels during a nasty accident at his holiday home in New Zealand back in April.
The Kiwi has worked wonders with Sam Warburton and Co over the past 12 months, leading them to the World Cup semi-finals before claiming the Grand Slam in this year’s Six Nations.
It remains to be seen how they’ll cope without their master mentor, though, although Deans believes a desire to prove themselves outside Europe will see Wales pose a dangerous threat to his side.
“After winning the Six Nations so impressively, there’s no doubt that Wales see this tour as the chance to take the next step,” the experienced Aussie coach said.
“They were quite vocal about that at the end of the tournament, saying it was time they beat one of the major southern hemisphere nations.
“It was also clear, when we were in Cardiff last December for the James Bevan Trophy Test, that they believe that goal is within their reach.” Deans was referring to the last clash between the two nations, where an under-strength Wallabies side prevailed 24-18.
They also won the bronze medal play-off at the World Cup but, having seen Howley’s 38-man training squad, which included four uncapped players, Deans knows they’re in for a serious battle come the first Test in Brisbane on June 9.
“You only have to look at the settled nature of the squad they have named - there are very few injuries. The players all want to be on this trip. That, in itself, is a statement of their intent,” he added.
Australia, though, could be boosted by the shock return of Quade Cooper with the mercurial fly-half reportedly set to play for the Queensland Reds this weekend. Cooper is working his way back from a serious knee injury he suffered, ironically, against Wales in New Zealand last year. However, Reds coach Ewen McKenzie revealed an imminent return is unlikely.
“Quade’s not far away but realistically it’s a low percentage that he’ll play on the weekend,” he said.