Wallabies are closing gap on NZ, says Deans

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 October, 2010, 12:00am

Coach Robbie Deans rejects suggestions the All Blacks have a mental hold over the Wallabies and says the gap between the two sides has narrowed considerably, despite a record 10-game losing streak.

The Wallabies have endured a torrid time against the All Blacks, who are odds-on to stretch that to 11 when the two sides meet in the DHL Bledisloe Cup encounter at Hong Kong Stadium on October 30.

But Deans, speaking from Sydney last night, remained cautiously optimistic the tide was turning, albeit slowly.

'We are close, but right now we don't have anything to shout about,' he said.

'We haven't quite got the measure of them, but we are starting to be competitive. There is enough evidence to show that.'

Richie McCaw and his men smashed both the Wallabies and the Springboks in the Tri-Nations this year, winning the crown for southern hemisphere supremacy in unbeaten fashion. To make matters worse for New Zealander Deans - who took over the Wallabies' job in 2008 - the All Blacks have never been beaten under his watch.

But Deans said there was no added pressure, despite rumblings of discontent from sections of the public in Australia.

'I don't think I'm under pressure. I have a great job and if there is pressure, it depends on who you are talking to,' he said. 'No one wants it [to beat the All Blacks] more than I do. I'm privileged to have this opportunity [as coach of the Wallabies].'

John O'Neill, chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, has already supported Deans (pictured), saying he would be the man to lead the Wallabies to the World Cup next year.

The All Blacks pipped Australia 24-23 in the dying seconds of the most recent encounter in Sydney last month. The previous two games were won 48-29 (in Melbourne) and 20-10 (in Christchurch).

With the Hong Kong clash being the start of the autumn northern hemisphere tours, both teams are back in training after a few weeks off.

'We have just got back on the horse,' Deans said. 'The guys are upbeat but there have been elements of frustration. We are fortunate to get another crack at them though.

'There is never any fun in losing. But there is no point lying around and sulking about it. We can't change the score and there is no point in blaming anyone. We have come second, and we just have to push on and try to do the job better next time.'

Both teams will arrive in Hong Kong by October 24. That afternoon, the Hong Kong rugby football union has organised an unprecedented fans' day at the So Kon Po pitch, where ticket-holders for the game will get the chance to rub shoulders with their heroes.