2013 British & Irish Lions
Lions hold preparation aces - Pocock
February 25, 2013
Robbie Deans, James Hooper, Michael Hooper and Willie Genia eye off the Tom Richards Cup © Scrum.com
Australia's David Pocock believes the British & Irish Lions have the upper hand in terms of preparation for their eagerly-awaited Test series because the Wallabies' playbook is already there for all to see.
The hosts are commonly believed to be favoured by a congested calendar that ensures their rivals will not gather as a squad until a couple of days before they head Down Under but Pocock, who is set to vie for the Wallabies' captaincy with lock James Horwill, insists that Australia's established combinations and patterns of play will provide Lions coach Warren Gatland with plenty of material on which to base his side's quest for the Tom Richards trophy.
"It's an advantage, but it's just part of the whole Lions tour and the challenge that brings," Pocock said at a function to mark the 100-day countdown to the tour. "That first Test will be a bit of an unknown, but after that we'll have a better understanding."
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans agreed with Pocock, saying "that's one of the unique pieces of interest around Lions series".
"How they piece their team together, not only in terms of combinations but tactics ... we've just got to turn it all to our advantage," Deans said. "We know what we've been doing as well."
The Wallabies will fly around Australia in a personalised Qantas jet © Scrum.com
Deans, meanwhile, re-stated the importance to the Wallabies' campaign of the proposed extended training camp ahead of the Test series. Australia's Super Rugby teams are against the concept of a three-week Wallabies camp. Queensland Reds play the Lions at Suncorp Stadium ahead of the first Test, while the other four Australian sides play derbies in their penultimate Super Rugby round.
The Super Rugby franchises are desperate to have their stars on deck, saying the Wallabies will benefit from releasing players back to their teams, but Deans is adamant that "preparation is key".
"You've only got to listen to [former Wallabies coach] Rod Macqueen ... he talked about the fact their preparation for the first [British and Irish Lions] Test in 2001 was negligent essentially," Deans said.
"He said it was insufficient, hence the outcome, Wherever we finish up, we won't get as much as [the 2001 Wallabies] had; they had three weeks plus a game ... wherever we finish up, we've got to make the most of what we get. We've got to make it work.
Deans has the full support of his players, with Pocock saying the proposed camp was "crucial".
"From a Wallabies perspective, they've got lead-in tour games to get their combinations right, work on things, whereas we go straight from Super Rugby so it's important we get enough prep time," Pocock said.
Most importantly, Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver was forthright in explaining the governing body's stance. "Robbie's going to get all the support he needs in terms of getting that group together, ideally three weeks ahead of that first game," Pulver said.
"I've got to go and talk to the Super Rugby franchises but I'm confident we'll be getting an announcement out. They want to have their players available for every Super Rugby game. But my priority, frankly, is ensuring Robbie has the right preparation in order to make sure we beat the Lions. That's the No. 1 priority."
Australia's David Pocock, James Horwill, Benn Robinson, Michael Hooper and Will Genia pose with the Tom Richards Trophy © Scrum.com
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