British & Irish Lions
Deans expecting torrid Lions series
May 1, 2013
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says the Lions represent a greater challenge than a World Cup © PA Photos
Robbie Deans says the Wallabies must brace themselves for a "brutal and relentless" Test series against the British & Irish Lions.
Deans on Wednesday expressed little surprise in Lions coach Warren Gatland's selection of 15 Welsh players in the 37-man touring party named on Tuesday night in London.
Gatland, also the Wales coach, admitted at his squad announcement that Wales' 32-3 rout of England in this year's Six Nations decider had been pivotal in the selection process.
Deans agreed the 2011 IRB World Cup semi-finalists were deserving of their dominant representation, including 24-year-old Welsh flanker Sam Warburton earning the Lions' captaincy.
"They've gone back to what they know, which isn't surprising," Deans said. "You go back two years when the Welsh (first) picked up the (Six Nations) title, everyone anticipated that the nucleus of the team would be Welsh. Then they hit a little bit of a flat patch but came back and responded very well in the last outing and retained the title. Particularly given the nature of that performance - it was complete - so it's not surprising that Warren has looked very much to his own."
Deans said England captain Chris Robshaw was probably the unluckiest omission from a Lions squad hungry to win a series against a southern hemisphere powerhouse for the first time since 1997.
"This generation won't be too concerned about what's been before. They'll solely care about their time," Deans said. "The best insight of what this series is going to be like was that final Six Nations fixture. It was brutal and it was relentless for 80 minutes. It will be a context that our blokes have never experienced. Some of our players have experienced World Cup rugby, but I tell you the ante goes up even further. This is the ultimate rugby experience."
The Lions face the Western Force in Perth in the first match of their nine-game, seven-week tour of Australia, with the first of three Tests against Australia taking place in Brisbane on June 22.
Sam Warburton: 'My priority is the team performance'