Phil Waugh warns of tough Tri-Nations - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Phil Waugh warns of tough Tri-Nations

By Adrian Warren 09/07/2008 03:36:32 PM Comments (0)

Veteran Wallaby flanker Phil Waugh has warned Australia will face a much tougher and quicker match in their Tri-Nations rugby opener against South Africa than in their three warm-up Tests.

Australia head into the July 19 clash with the world champion Springboks in Perth buoyed by a win over Ireland and two against France.

The Wallabies will face their stiffest examination yet under new coach Robbie Deans, particularly since South Africa will have already played two matches against New Zealand under several experimental laws not trialled in the recent Super 14 tournament.

"They (South Africa) will certainly have the benefit of having played two games under them by the time we reach them, that will certainly be good for them," Waugh told AAP.

"But looking at the game, it's going to be an intense game on the back end of the Super 14.

"The rules we played in the Super 14 are fairly similar, it's certainly going to be a lot quicker and tougher than what we played in the last three Tests."

Asked what he expected from the Springboks pack, Waugh said: "It's going to be combative, all bets are off.

"I don't think we're under any illusions as to winning by 30 points last week that we are going great, I think it's a whole new ball park."

South Africa boast a strong record in Perth, having won two and drawn one of the four Tri-Nations clashes played there against the Wallabies.

"No matter what the result, they've always been pretty close, I think they enjoy playing there," Waugh said.

"It's obviously closer to home for them, but we've got a lot of (Western) Force guys in the team, it's our home ground still."

After coming off the bench in the first two Tests behind his old rival and colleague George Smith, 28-year-old Waugh regained a starting spot last week and earned plaudits for his performance from Deans.

"I like to start, it's about what is the best balance for the team and where you fit into the team's best performance," Waugh said.

"I'd love to be starting, if I'm not starting I'd love to get plenty of time off the bench and I guess lift the energy of the team."

Now playing under his fourth Test coach, following Rod Macqueen, Eddie Jones and John Connolly, Waugh described the early weeks of the Deans regime as "refreshing".

"It's fairly similar to how the Crusaders (Deans' former team) have been playing, it's all about up-skilling all the players and giving everyone freedom to play," Waugh said.

"So far it's been really refreshing. Guys enjoy not just playing but training and it's all been a breath of fresh air."

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