Wallabies get serious in Tokyo - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies get serious in Tokyo

By Darren Walton 26/10/2009 07:23:31 PM Comments (0)

Before channelling all their energy towards completing a coveted grand slam sweep of the UK and Ireland, the Wallabies have the small matter of dealing with the All Blacks in Tokyo on Saturday.

After a forgettable winter, the Wallabies are desperate not to be remembered as the first Australian team in 47 years - and only the third side in more than a century of trans-Tasman rugby rivalry - to lose four Tests in a single season to New Zealand.

So while the tantalising prospect of emulating the legendary 1984 grand slammers of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales is the obvious attention grabber, the more immediate focus for the Robbie Deans-coached class of 2009 is avoiding a dubious place in the history books.

Vice-captain Berrick Barnes acknowledges the Bledisloe Cup stoush at the National Stadium could well shape the historic tour for the 35-man Wallabies squad.

Barnes says it's vital the Wallabies regain some credibility before arriving in the UK after suffering five defeats from six Tri Nations Tests, including a hat-trick of losses to New Zealand, culminating in last month's 33-6 capitulation in Wellington.

"That's something we've talked about the last three weeks - trying to win back a lot of respect," Barnes said on Monday.

"Not just in our part of the world but up north as well because they'll be looking to knock us off for sure.

"So this is one big stepping stone for that to happen."

A well overdue victory - which would snap a six-match losing streak against the All Blacks - would provide the Wallabies with an immeasurable shot of confidence ahead of the grand slam component of the five-week, seven-game tour, which also takes in mid-week encounters with Gloucester and Cardiff.

"It would give us a big boost," Barnes said of taking a win over the All Blacks into the grand slam tour.

"Obviously our performances have warranted the criticisms we've got, so definitely a good result this weekend would certainly help.

"We've only got ourselves to look at there and going over (to the UK with a win under our belt) will send a message to the other teams that we're fair dinkum as well.

"Probably right now they'll (the teams on the grand slam tour) be looking at us thinking they can knock us off as well and that we're probably the easiest of the three southern hemisphere teams to beat.

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