Rugby: Robbie Deans without Australia stars and wary of Scots
AUSTRALIA coach Robbie Deans has warned his country’s rugby fans not to underestimate Scotland but his side to face the tourists is unlikely to include the Brumbies players chasing the Super 15 title or any New South Wales Waratahs.
Deans was speaking yesterday in Newcastle in New South Wales, the venue for the Test match with Scotland, before holding a skills session to help drum up support around the city’s debut as an international Test rugby venue. He will use the Hopetoun Cup match with Scotland on Tuesday 5 June as a warm-up for the three-Test series with Wales, which start on Saturday 9 June.
Scotland coach Andy Robinson and the SRU took the decision last year to decline three-Test series in the big southern hemisphere nations in favour of one Test visits and others with smaller nations
Deans will begin preparations for the Scotland match a week on Monday with players drawn from the Western Force and Queensland Reds as both teams sit out the last weekend of regular Super 15 action on 1-2 June. Fringe players from the Waratahs and Brumbies may come into consideration only if they are not involved in the Super 15 that weekend nor in the frame for the Wallabies’ first Test with Wales.
Quade Cooper and James O’Connor are also struggling to make the Test matches.
Cooper has not played since suffering a serious knee injury in the World Cup, and a return last month was ruined when he tweaked his knee playing touch rugby. He could be back this weekend but O’Connor is still recovering from a lacerated kidney suffered less than a month ago. Deans, however, remains confident of being able to field a strong side, and insisted that he would not be taking the Scots lightly.
“While Scotland are coming off a disappointing Six Nations, they are a team who have traditionally punched above their weight internationally, especially when under-rated,” he said.
“We experienced that three years ago in Edinburgh [when Scotland won 9-8] and will not be taking for granted the threat that they pose.
“For us, it’s going to be great to be playing a Test at home again after having limited opportunities last year [due to the World Cup]. It’s also exciting to be playing in Newcastle, where the Qantas Wallabies haven’t appeared before. I’ve spent a bit of time in the city this year and the excitement of the local community to be hosting this match is clear.”
Next month’s visit is the seventh by the Scotland team to Australia, including the 2003 World Cup, and they have claimed just one victory in that time, when Andy Irvine marked his 50th appearance for Scotland by captaining the side to a 12-7 triumph in Ballymore in Brisbane in 1982. Scotland’s win in 2009 was their seventh in 25 Test meetings with the Wallabies dating back to 1947.
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