Deans coy on O'Connor return
September 5, 2011
The Wallabies gather in Sydney for the team's official Rugby World Cup farewell © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has refused to confirm the return of the recently suspended James O'Connor for his side's Rugby World Cup opener against Italy on Sunday.
O'Connor is eligible for selection after serving a one-match ban for failing to attend last month's official World Cup squad announcement but Deans would not be drawn on whether he will tweak the side that wrapped up the Tri-Nations crown with a 25-20 victory over New Zealand in Brisbane last month.
"We're clear in our minds and we've done a fair amount of work obviously, but [the 22-man squad] will be communicated tomorrow," Deans said following his side's official World Cup farewell in Sydney. When pressed on O'Connor's prospects, he added: "You'll have to wait, you know our policies. But obviously he is a possibility this week where he wasn't last week."
Skipper James Horwill believes the Wallabies possess the squad to win the Webb Ellis Cup but insists complacency won't be a factor against Nick Mallett's Italy. "I think every day we assemble as a group we have the belief that we can do it but it's not just going to happen, we have to go out there and play to our best to win and that's our focus and that's what we've been building towards," he said.
"We haven't even spoken about any sort of complacency. It's business as usual, we've got a Test match on Sunday and it's the first game to, I guess, send a message of what we're about. Looking at the game that they've played so far this year, in the forwards especially, they're very physical and they like that style of game and like to try and mess up your breakdown, so that's something we have to be wary of.
"Their scrum is exceptionally good so we've spent a lot of time as a forward pack focusing on that because they like that side of the game."
The Wallabies will take the youngest squad of all 20 competing nations into rugby's showcase event. But Horwill, 26, says age will be irrelevant over the next seven weeks. "I think age is just a number, it doesn't mean anything," he said. "I mean if you're good enough, no matter if you're young or old I think you should be there and the guys we've got are all certainly good enough to be there and some of them are the best players in their position in the world at the moment.
"It's something that we're looking forward to and I don't think it'll make any real difference because pretty much all the guys have played in big games."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures