Wallabies set their sights on Tri-Nations upset
June 29, 2010
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and captain Rocky Elsom eye the Bledisloe Cup silverware © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans and captain Rocky Elsom are determined to upset the form book and claim the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup glory.
The Wallabies won three of their four clashes this month - beating Fiji, sharing the spoils with England in a two-Test series and seeing off Ireland - and in doing so they retained both the Cook Cup and the Lansdowne Cup but they have set their sights on bigger prizes ahead of the latest battle for the southern hemisphere crown.
The Australians endured a miserable Tri-Nations series last year, winning just one of six Tests and they have not won the Bledisloe Cup since 2002 - a barren run the team is desperate to end.
"For us, we wanted to retain those trophies which we did, with the Lansdowne and the Cook Cups," Elsom said. "That was a big focus for us. We now have our sights set on the Tri Nations and Bledisloe."
Pressure is building on the Wallabies to improve, with Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill publicly admitting the team is not as advanced as he had hoped 15 months away from the World Cup while their rivals New Zealand and South Africa appear to be on track for the sport's showpiece event.
O'Neill has claimed the team has even gone backwards in recent weeks, when it lost by a point to England and laboured to a 22-15 win over Ireland. But Deans said there had been a number of positives to emerge so far this year.
"We had some guys have their first experiences and we have seen them grow," he said. "Obviously it hasn't been perfect and it probably was never going to be when you look at our circumstances."
Asked if the Wallabies had closed the gap on the Springboks and the All Blacks, Deans replied, "We don't get into those guessing games. We just work hard. I can assure you the fixtures will be for real and they will be competitive. We are in 2010 and that's the only thing that matters."
Elsom said the Wallabies would be ready to finally reclaim the Bledisloe Cup, the trans-Tasman symbol of rugby supremacy. "We never need a reason. We want that in the cabinet," he said. "It's obviously been something difficult for us to win in the past but we'll be going straight at it this year. We have obviously got South Africa first, then New Zealand. We'll get a good gauge then with how we are and how they are."
Deans said loose-head prop Benn Robinson (fractured forearm) and hooker Stephen Moore (broken jaw) would return. He said Digby Ioane would also be available soon having avoided surgery on a dislocated shoulder, but the immediate future of Tatafu Polota-Nau was uncertain as he may require ankle surgery.
Under Deans, the Wallabies have a record of 18 wins, 13 losses and a draw, prompting speculation he could be replaced with Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie if this latest campaign is a failure.
Deans and Elsom were in Melbourne to help launch ticket sales for the opening Bledisloe Cup match, to be held at Etihad Stadium on July 31. The match will held at the venue for the first time, with the three previous games staged at the MCG.
The Wallabies squad will be named on Thursday week.