Australia v South Africa, Tri-Nations, September 5
Wallabies promise to fight on
September 1, 2009
Under-fire Wallabies coach Robbie Deans talks to the media in Brisbane © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has dismissed suggestions that he will use this Saturday's dead-rubber against South Africa as an opportunity to experiment.
Deans has made five changes to the side that were over-powered by the Springboks in Perth last weekend in a bid to snap his side's four-game losing streak. But he insists all the changes are warranted and do not reflect a desire to try out new combinations with their title chances gone.
In particular, Deans has high hopes for what scrum-half Will Genia and flanker David Pocock could produce in their first Tri-Nations starts.
"We clearly believe in all the blokes we picked, this is by no means tokenism, nor is it a stick," Deans said. "These guys who are getting their first start have earned their right - it's not something that we've taken lightly. They've all shown already that they're perfectly capable ... it's not a big step in so far as you've already seen these players play, and do well, so it's not as if we're clutching at straws."
Deans continued to preach the mantra of form over reputation, but said players like out-of-sorts prop Al Baxter, dropped out of the match day 22, could still force their way back into the Australian side.
"Al will play club rugby this week, and as has always been the case with all the players that play club rugby, it is important," he said. "What they do there is important, without going into detail I can tell you that selection choices have been impacted on through club performances."
Deans had similar words of support for regular scrum-half Luke Burgess, who found himself benched at the expense of Genia.
"Luke is still a very big part of us and our future. That's a given, because he doesn't have number nine on his back on the weekend doesn't mean he's any different to last week. He's still a part of the Wallabies and still a big part of our future and he's working hard to that end."
Quade Cooper trained on Tuesday and Deans expects the utility to be fit for the weekend. The Wallabies boss suggested he could have rushed Nathan Sharpe back into the side, but wanted to give the veteran plenty of time to overcome his shoulder injury.
"We could have pushed him on Thursday to see if he was able to get through, but we just don't see the point now. He's important to us in the long run, it's an area where we don't have a lot of depth so we didn't want to break him - particularly when we do have a few blokes who are fit and raring to go."
Berrick Barnes has been named at inside centre, but Deans reckons he would be regularly trading places with fly-half Matt Giteau.
"The numbers on their back aren't relevant to be honest, you'll see them in both roles during the game."