Shocked Deans hopeful Baxter will stay - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Shocked Deans hopeful Baxter will stay

By David Beniuk 17/04/2009 08:12:59 PM Comments (0)

Surprised Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is hopeful Al Baxter will remain in Australia following the veteran prop's revelation that contract negotiations have stalled with the Australian Rugby Union.

Just days after Deans expressed concern at Australia's depth in the tighthead front row position, Baxter said he would now consider offers from overseas.

Baxter, with 64 Tests under his belt, is Australia's most-capped prop and his exit from the Wallabies would be a massive blow at a time he is playing his best rugby.

The 32-year-old is currently sidelined from the NSW Waratahs' Super 14 campaign with a calf injury.

"I was as surprised as you when I read it but it's often the way these days, there's not too much that's sacrosanct any more, a lot of these thing are often discussed in the public arena," Deans said.

"Obviously Al's been a big servant of Australian rugby in the past and has got the capacity to be a big servant in the future as well.

"I'm not privy to players' contract details and I don't want to be, but obviously we want as many capable players as possible to be here in Australia ... but those are decisions that they make and only they can make and we'll respond to their choices ultimately."

Maligned after Australia's infamous scrummaging capitulation against England at Twickenham in 2005, Baxter has bounced back in a position players often don't reach maturity in until their 30s.

He was a pivotal part of the scrum that avenged the England humiliation last November.

Deans believes Baxter is fully aware of his lofty position in the Australian rugby pecking order, but said if the player had any doubts he'd hope Baxter would "pick up the phone and talk".

"He's done his time ... and he really set himself probably last year as a pre-eminent tighthead," Deans said.

"I'm hopeful that he wants to play some more but those are players' choices and there's a lot of things that they consider."

Meanwhile, Deans is unconcerned by Wallabies halfback Luke Burgess' benching for the Waratahs' clash with the Western Force on Saturday.

"In terms of Wallabies, it's neither here nor there," he said.

And Deans has called on SANZAR to provide some certainty over the game's southern hemisphere future in the wake of South Africa agreeing an expanded Super tournament could run until July.

"It doesn't concern me (which option) but to know would be good," he said. "It's certainly something that's dragged on.

"We need resolution, from the game perspective it's not good."

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