Wallabies on a high for new Test season - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies on a high for new Test season

By Darren Walton 10/06/2009 05:09:47 PM Comments (0)

Oozing confidence and boasting unprecedented depth, the Wallabies enter Saturday's season-opening Test against Italy believing they are building beautifully towards the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The Wallabies are riding high after kick-starting their 2009 campaign with a 48-point demolition of the Barbarians last Saturday in Sydney, but insist the best is yet to come in the long road to the game's global showpiece in New Zealand in two years' time.

Under second-year coach Robbie Deans, Australia will begin the Test season ranked third in the world behind southern hemisphere rivals New Zealand and South Africa and determined to replenish the ARU's trophy cabinet with success in the Bledisloe Cup series and Tri Nations tournament.

But a record third World Cup for the Wallabies - sweetly procured in Deans' home country where he was overlooked for the All Blacks job - is the unmistakable long-term goal of the master coach.

Adopting an "out with the old and in with the new" approach, Deans has shown once again this week he is not afraid to bruise egos in his ruthless quest for the Webb Ellis Cup, dumping international stalwarts Lote Tuqiri and Phil Waugh from the 22-man squad for the Wallabies' first Test of the year.

The result is a squad on edge - just the way Deans like it.

With no guarantees for even the most established players, each and every Wallaby accepts they must perform or else.

Deans can command such excellence from his troops because he and his coaching staff have carefully and meticulously compiled an extended playing group where no one is expendable.

"We're building one or two extra players in every position and that's what you need," forwards coach Jim Williams told AAP on Wednesday.

"You're going to need that depth of quality of player in these years leading into the World Cup and particularly going into that World Cup year.

"Even players who haven't made the (30-man) squad for these June Tests (against Italy and France) are still on our radar - the Nick Hendersons, the (Guy) Shepherdsons, (Will) Caldwell, (Ben) Hand, these type of guys and others.

"It's just one injury away that blokes like that are into the squad, into a Test season and playing Tri Nations the next day.

"We've got to make sure that not only the forwards we've got, but also the guys we've got immediately outside of the squad, are striving to keep working hard to make sure they're ready if the opportunity comes."

There is similar depth among the Australian backs.

If "opportunity" was the Wallabies' buzzword in 2008, then "squad mentality" is the catchphrase in 2009.

"It's fantastic and there's a squad mentality so anyone who fills a role wants to give their best but also understands it's about contributing to the team," halfback Luke Burgess said.

"The talent we do have is fantastic and it's just about unleashing that talent, giving them the opportunity, putting guys into attacking situations and letting guys back themselves."

"That's how we get the best out of each other and there'll always be that competition."

Lachie Turner realises he'd be foolish to take his selection this Saturday on the wing - ahead of sacked NSW Waratahs teammate Tuqiri - for granted given the glut of talent in his particular position.

"Everybody is on notice each week that they need to perform or their position will be handed to someone else," Turner said. "The competition breeds success.

"You need that sort of build-up when a World Cup is a couple of years down the track.

"But we're also focusing on the here and now," Turner added, knowing full well anyone who takes their eye off the ball against Italy will pay the price.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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