Deans shares insider knowledge
New Zealander who was rejected from All Blacks job brings insider knowledge for Tri-Nations.
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2008 15:46 GMT

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans served as an assistant coach to the All Blacks between 2001 and 2003 and has a good sense of the NZ tactics [GALLO/GETTY]

Australia are pinning their hopes on a New Zealander who was rejected by his own countrymen to help them regain the rugby Tri-Nations title from the All Blacks in Saturday's series decider.

The Wallabies have not won the Tri-Nations since 2001 and the odds are heavily stacked against them this time after their record 53-8 loss to South Africa less than two weeks ago.

New Zealand have won five of the past six encounters and hold a one-point lead in the standings after victories in their last two matches against Australia and the Springboks.

Inside information

Yet, the involvement of New Zealand-born coach Robbie Deans, who joined Australia this season after being overlooked for the All Blacks job, has added an intriguing twist to the match.

Deans knows the New Zealand players well after coaching most of them at the Canterbury Crusaders and is recognised as one the great tacticians and motivators of the game.

He made good on his promise to wield the axe after the South African debacle by dumping five players for this weekend's decider at Lang Park and that move has had the right effect.

Rejuvinated side

The five recalled players, centre Ryan Cross, hooker Stephen Moore, flanker George Smith, lock Nathan Sharpe and prop Al Baxter, are determined to make the most of their chance while the survivors are keen to repay Deans for showing faith in them.

"I think everyone was pretty worried about that performance in South Africa, I certainly was," fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper said.

"(Being selected by Deans) was a great boost and now I'm really, really excited about it.

"The silverware's on the line, playing the Kiwis in front of a full house, it doesn't get any better than this."

Graham Henry is very aware of the potential influence of Robbie Deans.
High expectations

The quietly spoken Deans played down the significance of the changes but said he expected an immediate improvement from his team this weekend.

"It's not a matter of reinventing the wheel or tipping everything on its head," Deans said.

"It's a matter of sticking to what serves you and trying to win more of those little contests so that the outcome deals with itself."

All Blacks coach Graham Henry retained the same winning combination that started in New Zealand's last two Tri-Nations victories.

NZ cautious

Henry, who came under intense criticism in New Zealand after his team's failure to win last year's World Cup, fears Australia's thrashing by South Africa could work against his side because of Deans' ability to inspire his players.

Even the New Zealand players admit they are concerned by the Deans factor with Crusaders flyhalf Dan Carter wary of his ability to quickly turn things around.

"He brings out the best in players and I'm sure he'll do that this week so they're primed and ready to play the biggest game of the season," Carter said.

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