Deans refuses to shut the door on anyone
May 28, 2010
Veteran Phil Waugh made the last of his 79 caps against France last year © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans is adamant veteran Phil Waugh can fight his way back into Test squad picture after failing to make the grade for next month's clashes.
Waugh was the most notable omission from the 30-man Wallabies squad named on Thursday to contest the first four Tests of the campaign against Fiji, England and Ireland next month. The 79-Test flanker was not considered for last season's spring tour of Europe through injury, however, his non-selection for next month's inbound Tests does not bode well for the 30-year-old who has slipped behind Western Force duo David Pocock and Matt Hodgson in the pecking order.
But Deans pointed to the return of Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles to the Wallabies squad for the first time in two years as proof all hope is not lost for the proud Waratahs skipper. "It's not over until any individuals deem it to be over, and Hoilesy's a great example of that," Deans said. "He hasn't played Test rugby since 2008 and he only played the one Test at that stage. When we sat down to consider the group we resolved a Wallabies 30 in the first instance and then the Barbarians group (of 10 players) was very much about development."
The Australian Barbarians team is made up of members of the 30-man Wallabies squad and the 10 development players will face England in two midweek clashes in Perth and Gosford next month.
Deans added of 28-year-old Hoiles' inclusion: "When we selected the UK squad last year he was very disappointed. He played in the final hit-out and injured himself and he was on the radar then and he actually made the comment at the time that he felt that was the end for him - he felt if he didn't make that trip that he'd never be a Wallaby again. But he's shown through this year's (Super 14) campaign that if you're prepared to keep working at it, age is irrelevant and history's irrelevant.
"It's about what you make of the moment and he's shown that he can be a better player. He's worked hard at it and he's been rewarded as such. It's a good trait to continue to improve - anything's possible if you do that."
Deans confirmed as many as 15 players are currently unavailable for selection due to injury, with James Horwill (knee), Wycliff Palu (knee), Benn Robinson (arm), Stephen Moore (jaw) and Stirling Mortlock (back) the most notable absentees. Scrum-half Will Genia (knee) and winger Peter Hynes were both selected but are expected to miss at least the first two Tests of the campaign, while Tatafu Polota-Nau (shoulder, foot) will also be eased back into battle after a torrid campaign with the Waratahs.
"Tatafu has had a couple of complaints that he's been carrying," the coach said. "We haven't had the opportunity to catch up with him since he returned from Africa as he had the misfortune of his uncle passing away, so he's attending that funeral but we will catch up with him shortly and we'll be able to give you a more accurate assessment.
"We don't intend to involve him early anyway. He needs a break. He deserves a break. He's had a great Super rugby season and he's really contributed beyond most normal men's capabilities."
While conscious of the need to balance the workloads of selected players, Deans confirmed he would name his best available side to face Fiji in Canberra on July 5. "Each game we'll be lining up to win," he added. "We'll be naming a line-up to win in every instance. That's not to say (we won't be without players) because of injuries and the possibility of giving a couple of blokes a bit of breathing space and obviously Tatafu in particular, but it will essentially be the best line-up we can put out on any given day."
Wallabies squad for June Tests:
Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Richard Brown, Luke Burgess, Mark Chisholm, Quade Cooper, Pek Cowan, Ben Daley, Rocky Elsom (capt), Huia Edmonds, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia, Matt Giteau, Stephen Hoiles, Matt Hodgson, Rob Horne, Peter Hynes, Digby Ioane, Salesi Ma'afu, Drew Mitchell, Dean Mumm, James O'Connor, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Nathan Sharpe, Lachie Turner, Josh Valentine, Laurie Weeks