Wallabies coach has 'clean slate' stance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies coach has 'clean slate' stance

By David Beniuk 14/04/2009 07:02:09 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has foreshadowed an injection of youth into the Australian side this winter, saying he'll begin his second year in charge with a "clean slate".

Far from disheartened by Australian sides' failure to light up the Super 14, Deans says he has more depth to choose from in 2009 and is pleased with the development of the players he blooded during his first year at the Wallabies' helm.

Deans has been compiling an Australian team of the month based purely on Super 14 form and has asked the state sides to do the same to challenge his thinking and that of fellow selectors David Nucifora and Jim Williams.

"It's a living document very much, it changes from month to month," Deans told reporters on Tuesday.

"The only criteria I put around it was that anyone (the states) named was genuinely good to go in terms of international rugby."

And the process is changing the way Deans thinks about his squad after largely inheriting last year's just days after his Crusaders won the Super 14 final.

"There probably wasn't a lot of decisions to be made in June last year but there will be this year which is great," he said.

"We're going to be under pressure in terms of making decisions.

"We will consider everyone, there won't be any preconceived ideas ... we'll consider every permutation in terms of injury and form.

"We're going with a clean slate, a fresh outlook."

The recent appointment of skills coach Richard Graham has come about partly because of the expectation of a younger squad, Deans said.

"When you look at the likely profile of the group ... there is going to be a fair amount of youth in terms of the average age of the squad I suspect, so to have another pair of hands from my perspective will be great because you can't be everywhere," he said.

Eligible young guns like Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor and Rob Horne will be required to represent Australia at June's Under-20 Rugby World Cup in Japan, though, before any senior international call-up.

"We want to see what they bring to that tournament," Deans said.

"We want them to bring and offer exactly what they've done there with us and it will be a great indicator in terms of their ability to lead and initiate and contribute to a team."

Fullback, centre, halfback and tighthead prop are the positions Deans is most concerned about, but he believes Australia's overall depth has improved.

"There's more choice, some of the blokes who got an opportunity last year are showing more than they were this time last year," he said.

But one position Deans is not concerned about is five-eighth.

The former mentor of All Blacks superstar Dan Carter believes Matt Giteau has now mastered the role of No.10.

"You look back 12 months and he's a genuine 10 now where he was learning the trade very much a year ago," Deans said.

"He looks totally comfortable in his own skin now."

The Wallabies' first squad of the year will assemble on the Monday after the Super 14 final to begin preparations for the season-opening showdown with a Barbarians side including Sonny Bill Williams at the Sydney Football Stadium on June 6.

Should an Australian Super 14 side make the May 30 final, it is unlikely players from it would back up against the Baa Baas.

"There's a lot of blokes who have been world class internationals previously and are coming back to international rugby so they're going to have something to prove," Deans said of the Barbarians.

The Wallabies will then play two Tests against Italy and one against France before opening their Tri-Nations campaign on July 18 in Auckland.

"I think you'll see the most competitive Tri-Nations ever," Deans said.

Deans is hopeful star flanker Rocky Elsom is leaning towards a return to Australia.

Elsom received an early release from his Australian Rugby Union contract last year on compassionate grounds to link with Irish provincial side Leinster.

ARU officials had hoped he would re-join the Wallabies after a one-season stint, but Elsom is yet to decide whether to activate a second-year clause in his northern hemisphere deal.

Deans said he had spoken with the damaging forward on his recent trip to the UK for a conference on rugby's experimental law variations.

"I just said to him `when you've made your mind up let me know, don't leave it too late'," Deans told reporters on Tuesday.

Asked if he felt Elsom would be heading home, Deans said: "I think so but there's no point in second guessing and whatever decision he makes will be the right one."

Elsom has been named to line up for the Barbarians against the Wallabies on June 6 at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news