Deans’ Wallaby punt faces big first hurdle

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    Expect the unexpected, that’s the Wallabies’ mindset heading into the world’s biggest rugby union match since the 2011 World Cup.

    But it’s the quarantined Australians who must surprise against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday night as the latest chapter in their 125-year history starts at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.

    The Lions are warm favourites for some very good reasons, particularly Australia’s recent history of embarrassing starts to a Test season and lack of a warm-up match.

    In contrast, the best of Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland have at least two hit-outs under their belts and are ready to roll.

    How the home side measure up – with a new playmaker in James O’Connor and three debutants in Israel Folau, lineout caller Ben Mowen and key centre Christian Lealiifano – is unknown.

    Australia were dreadful in their opening encounters of 2010 and 2011 – upset by Samoa and Scotland – and another rusty effort will be punished severely by the well-grooved Lions.

    With his Wallabies coaching career on the line, Robbie Deans has taken the punt on quarantining his players in a three-week camp to refresh them from the rigours of Super Rugby and finetune a more attacking game style in training.

    Vice-captain Will Genia felt the extra preparation time had worked to ensure the home side were primed for a rollicking start.

    But after scoring just 15 tries in 15 Tests last year, Australia’s attacking general said they would break the shackles to beat a Lions side that’s playing with tempo and aiming to score 23-plus points for victories.

    “We want to look to play footy, we want to look to spread the ball and to express ourselves – we have to score points to win,” Genia said.

    “The Lions have spoken all tour about wanting to come here and play some rugby and score points and know they have to score tries to win.

    “That’s the game I think that we can expect to see tomorrow. And then you have Leigh Halfpenny who can kick (penalty goals) from anywhere as well.”

    Halfpenny, who makes English radar-boot Jonny Wilkinson look erratic, looms as a major factor after slotting 22 of his 23 attempts at goal on tour.

    After four straight tour wins, before Tuesday night’s upset loss to the Brumbies by their dirt-trackers, Lions assistant coach Andy Farrell warned they hadn’t played all their cards.

    Skipper James Horwill said the Wallabies were already braced for new tactics.

    “They have things up their sleeve,” Horwill said. “They’ve been holding some stuff back so we have to expect the unexpected.”

    It’s been 12 years since debutant Justin Harrison boldly stole that late lineout near the Wallabies line for a breakthrough series triumph with a thrilling 29-23 win in Sydney, and both sides expect another tight nip-and-tuck battle.

    There were late injury queries in both camps with Wallabies No.8 Wycliff Palu (knee) and Lions duo Tom Croft (toe) and Jonathan Davies (stiffness) all missing training on Friday but officials insisted they were rested as a precaution.

    The Wallabies hold an exceptional record at their favourite ground, winning 17 of 21 matches at Suncorp Stadium and only being denied by the All Blacks, but they have never beaten the Lions in Brisbane.

    Friday rain, which is expected to clear by kickoff, has also brought concerns and at the very least delivered a surface more to the liking of the tourists.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • June 22nd 2013 @ 4:44am
      Shop said | June 22nd 2013 @ 4:44am | ! Report

      I’m actually very surprised that it appears Deans has gone for what appears to be an attacking backline. Maybe this year we’ll see more than 1 try per match. Still a long way to go for redemption in my eyes though Dingo!

      • Roar Guru

        June 22nd 2013 @ 11:02am
        Anthony Hird said | June 22nd 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        It’s the first year Deans has had a fantastic crop to choose from. When he took over, we played with attacking flair, and then went through the rebuilding phase, then the never ending injury crisis.
        C’arn the Wallabies.

        • Roar Guru

          June 22nd 2013 @ 11:17am
          Jiggles said | June 22nd 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          Deans has had access to Robinson Moore Alexander Palu Horwill Mowen JOC Genia AAC Ioane Beale Mitchell etc his entire career. Stop making excuses.

          • June 22nd 2013 @ 3:06pm
            WRM said | June 22nd 2013 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

            Deans has acess to who?
            I think you will find that 4 of the 10 players you have named were not available in 2012 for much or all of the season and Palu was out for a 3rd of it.
            Mowen was unwanted by 2 clubs before making the most of it at the Brumbies and is only now up to international standard, if he actually is. Something I question.
            Genia hit his stride in 2011 and was out for 2012.
            I think the person who should stop making excuses is you Justin. You seem to have nothing but excuses when somebody points out anything that contradicts your dislike for Deans.

            • June 22nd 2013 @ 4:20pm
              vicco said | June 22nd 2013 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

              ….and how long has Deans been coach? Exactly.

        • June 22nd 2013 @ 11:31am
          Archer said | June 22nd 2013 @ 11:31am | ! Report

          Is that fresh from the Ministry of Propaganda? Is it really the first year in all the years Deans has been Wallaby coach he’s been able to select the team he wanted? I doubt it. Sure there was a remodeling phase — it’s not rebuilding — when he experimented. But surely that’s well over by now and we’ve settled on a Deans style and know his A-game and B-game . .

          • June 22nd 2013 @ 2:51pm
            WRM said | June 22nd 2013 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

            2012.
            No Genia.
            No Folau.
            No JOC.
            No Cooper.
            No Horwill.
            No Lealiifano.
            No Tomane.
            No Burgess.
            No White.
            No McCalman.

            So there is 10 options he didnt have in 2012 so please dont say its an excuse, its reality.
            2012 was the year where Australia scored 1 try per match but over Robbies stint as coach they were 2nd in the world at tries scored if you remove 2012. If you add 2012 they are 3rd. So to pretend, and my friends it is pretending, that the Wallabies have lacked try scoring relative to other nations under Deans is the propaganda, not saying that he has close to a full contingent of players to chose from compared to last year. Thats just a simple fact that you chose to ignore because you want things to be that way in order to help you keep your view of Deans intact.
            The simple facts are that in 2012 the Wallaby squad was extremely depleted and lacked playmakers such as Cooper, Genia, JOC, White and Lealiifano along with other crucial players like Pocock and Horwill.
            Stop being such conspiracy theorists and discounting everything that does not help you argue that Deans is the problem and then you will finally grasp the whole picture.

            • Roar Guru

              June 22nd 2013 @ 4:08pm
              Cattledog said | June 22nd 2013 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

              We’ll soon know just how good (or pedestrian) your ‘messiah’ really is, WRM.

    • June 22nd 2013 @ 7:09am
      Bazza Allblack Supporter said | June 22nd 2013 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      I am so conflicted!

      I would take mean spirited pride in the lions wiping the boys in gold but I hate losing (even if by proxy) to NH teams…

      Either way it is going to be a scorcher!

      Experiment all blacks side then battle of gold v red – a great Saturday night!

    • June 22nd 2013 @ 7:10am
      Krasnoff of Noosa said | June 22nd 2013 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      The crucial factor is going to be the scrum. If the scrum collapses and Halfpenny begins to slot the penalties you can forget the razzle dazzle. With that in mind herein lies the Wallabies weakness: Alexander. Oh for Sio and Palmer.

    • June 22nd 2013 @ 7:10am
      Northern Pom said | June 22nd 2013 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      Very interesting radio programme on BBC 5Live here in the UK – Eddie Jones reckons that the Wallabies have to play it wide and fast else Gatlandball will grind you down. If Aus don’t break out early then Aus won’t last the 80 minutes.

      Personally, my heart says Lions 3:0 Aus, my heart says 2:1 , but which way???

      BRING IT ON! Almost all pundits (apart from the halfwit Paul Ackford in the Telegraph) says whoever wins the 1st Test wins the series. 13 hours from now will be the biggest rugby game in 4 years. Yes we Poms won the 2003 (and it was marvelous, darling), but a Lions test?- Webb Ellis hiumself would be screamiing from the touchline, not being good enough to play himself
      Reply

      • June 22nd 2013 @ 9:07am
        Shop said | June 22nd 2013 @ 9:07am | ! Report

        Do you have 2 hearts?

      • June 22nd 2013 @ 9:51am
        Malo said | June 22nd 2013 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Series will be decided in first 30 minutes.
        Have to agree with that. If it is a grind game we will get beat . We have to play a fast tempo wide game. I think Deansy knows it that is why we have such an attacking backline. The Lions have a stronger bench so we have to get a flyer of a start and agree the wallabies will run out of puff and our bench will bring nothing into the game. If it is close at the 60 min mark, the Lions will win well. I am being optimistic and think we will get that flyer and win well though.

    • June 22nd 2013 @ 7:59am
      Red Block said | June 22nd 2013 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      It’s make or break time for Deans and his selections. I understand the conflict that others are feeling.

      Can Alexander stand the heat in the front row? Can JOC successfully combine his running game with a passing game? Is Palu really fit? Will a Wallaby win lead to a contract extension for Deans? Is a cross between a Shitzu and a poodle really called a Shitpoo?

      By the end is today, most of these questions will be answered.

      • June 22nd 2013 @ 12:02pm
        Stin said | June 22nd 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        I prefer Poozu.

        I’m so confused – I can’t add any coherent thoughts regarding this MASSIVE of MASSIVE games. Only – If they get to Will, we’re in trouble.

    • June 22nd 2013 @ 8:14am
      Chas said | June 22nd 2013 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      Pollock to get the Wallabies home.

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