Australia coach dodges jibes from All Blacks ahead of rugby union clash
Australia coach accused of lacking confidence in his World Cup side for today's clash with New Zealand
Reuters in Sydney
Australia coach Robbie Deans refused to take the bait after being accused of lacking confidence in his World Cup side for today's opening clash of the Rugby Championship in Sydney.
The Wallabies scored a rare win over the world champions in Brisbane last year, but the All Blacks are touted to dominate the newly expanded southern hemisphere competition with South Africa and debutants Argentina.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen's jibe that picking only six starters from their 20-6 semi-final defeat by New Zealand at last year's World Cup was like an admission from Deans that he had got his selections wrong.
Either that or he wanted to change his style of game and did not trust those players to get the job done, Hansen said.
Hansen and Deans share a tense relationship following a reported falling out.
"Steve is a very good fisherman - he loves fishing," Deans said yesterday before the showdown at the Olympic stadium.
Deans said the Wallabies were fired up to upset New Zealand and clinch the Bledisloe Cup - the annual trophy contested between the Antipodean neighbours - for the first time since 2002.
"Obviously we'd love to and I'm part of that," he said. "Clearly it's time. It's pretty straightforward really. It's far too long.
"But we're getting it done, the boys have worked hard. We understand that the All Blacks won't let go lightly. That's the nature of the way they push their work.
"This group I can assure you is really looking forward to kick-off."
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw brushed off the media hype surrounding the game.
"Teams change," he shrugged. "One week can be a long time in sport.
"You look at the personnel they have got there at the moment. They are all quality individuals and we are in for a big challenge and from my point of view that's all that I'm looking at."
Deans said home advantage in the opening game would be crucial. The Wallabies face the return leg at Eden Park in Auckland next week where they have not beaten the All Blacks since 1986.
"It's really important now for both sides. It's a new format," Deans said.
"It's going to be a tough championship, there's no doubt about that," he added.
"Any side that gets off to a good start will get the benefit of that. Every outing is going to be key because there'll be nothing given."