Australia v British & Irish Lions, Sydney, July 6
Wallabies ready to deliver statement
July 5, 2013
Robbie Deans is confident James Horwill will lift the Tom Richards Cup © Getty Images
Robbie Deans has declared the Wallabies ready to make a statement in the winner-takes-all third Test against the British & Irish Lions at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday, producing a rare display of chest beating to say his charges were finally poised to deliver on their potential this weekend.
"I certainly hope that we can conclude this series emphatically, that's what we want to do, that's what we're setting out to do and we strive to do," Deans said. "... I think this will be our best performance, without a doubt, and I think that's been coming. You look at the second half last week, we started to get some rhythm and the combinations started to kick in. The Lions will intend to deny us that, they'll try and deny us that momentum and deny us the ball. [They'll play] field position once again and they'll try and spend a lot of time with the ball in their own hands sucking the energy out of our legs, but either way this will be our best performance."
Deans has opted for a six-two split of forwards and backs on the bench, in order to counter the physical barrage he's expecting from the Lions, adding loose forward Ben McCalman to the bench at the expense of utility back Rob Horne, leaving half-back Nick Phipps and fullback Jess Mogg as the Wallabies' only backline cover. But he is adamant he has plans in place to cover the loss of backline stars including outside centre Adam Ashley-Cooper, who has failed to complete both of the first two Tests, despite not having a specialist centre sitting on the pine.
"We've got plans, don't worry about that. And they're good ones," Deans said. "Every decision you make is a gamble, we believe it (the bench) offers us what we need in this game."
Deans said he was surprised by the omission of Brian O'Driscoll from the 23-man Lions squad. "We've got a lot of respect for Brian," Deans said. He's stung us in the past, [in] 2009 he scored in the last minute to deny us and the game resulted in a draw. He's a class player and a class bloke but I guess the Lions have the luxury of being able to pick from a lot of experience."
Jonathan Davies will fill the No.3 jumper in O'Driscoll's absence alongside Welsh compatriot Jamie Roberts, who has overcome a hamstring injury to start at inside centre. They are among 10 Welshmen selected by Wales and Lions coach Warren Gatland in his starting side. "It's not surprising that Warren has looked to his Welsh players," Deans said. "He knows them well and I guess you've only got to look at that final Six Nations fixture [against] England where they responded at the defining moment, so that's what he'll be looking for."
Greg Growden previews the third Test