Wallabies' plea: don't expect miracles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies' plea: don't expect miracles

By Darren Walton 13/06/2008 06:18:31 PM Comments (0)

Desperate to keep a lid on the growing excitement, skipper Stirling Mortlock has cautioned fans against expecting miracles on Saturday night in the Wallabies' much-hyped first Test under super coach Robbie Deans.

While touting the landmark Test as "an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and move forward" following last year's painful Rugby World Cup failure in France, Mortlock said the new-look Wallabies were expecting anything but a cakewalk against Ireland at Melbourne's Telstra Dome.

"As a team, we haven't played together yet. You'd be a little bit silly to think that we're going to go out tomorrow night and play a complete game of football," Mortlock said.

"We have a number of guys having their first cap and, likewise, we have a lot of new combinations.

"So we go into the game knowing full well that we'll probably be a little bit rusty."

Mortlock said although the Wallabies were eager for the dawn of a new era under Deans, it was important to keep things in perspective.

Mortlock realises the five-times Super series-winning coach will not be the man scoring the tries or making the tackles for the Wallabies.

"He's already mentioned it a few times, that it's not about him," Mortlock said.

"But I think we're in a unique situation, the Wallabies at the moment. There's been a lot of talk about is this a new era dawning and, from our perspective, we're just very excited.

"We feel as though there is an opportunity in front of us and it's up to us to take advantage of that.

"It's been a long time coming for a fair amount of the group."

Deans has been banging on ever since the Wallabies assembled last Monday about the importance of backing their attacking instincts come what may.

Mortlock said such freedom should allow the dynamic midfield axis of Berrick Barnes, Matt Giteau and debutant halfback Luke Burgess to flourish.

"He's really trying to free up our guys' minds to play what's in front of you and we have a lot of flexibility in our attack," Mortlock said.

"So we'll have two genuine ball distributors (in Barnes and Giteau) and, then likewise, add in to the mix Luke Burgess at No.9 who does offer a lot of penetration around there as well.

"With those three combined there, there's a lot of opportunity to go in or around or as we see fit and hopefully, from our perspective, we do our job up the middle first and foremost and do our job at the breakdown so that we can give those guys the opportunity to show their wares with the ball in hand."

Physicality has been the buzzword in camp all week.

"That's the really important thing," Mortlock said. "We've got to go out there with the mindset that they're really going to absolutely rip into us.

"I dare say, if we get on top of them there, that will go a long way in terms of getting the match for us."

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, who will directly oppose Mortlock at outside centre in an intriguing personal duel, agreed about where the Test would be decided.

"Physicality is what wins games," O'Driscoll said.

"Often a lot is spoken about skill level and tactics and everything but you win the collision zones, whether you have the ball or you don't, you win more than 50 per cent of them, and you're off on the right footing.

"Packs wins game and, if we win tomorrow, I'm sure will come down to our front eight."

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