Revenge not on Wallabies' minds
November 12, 2008
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans conducts yesterda's training session in London © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has played down suggestions his side will have World Cup scores to settle when they take on England at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Wallabies were beaten by Jonny Wilkinson's last-gasp, extra-time drop-goal in the 2003 World Cup final and four years later were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Brian Ashton's men, despite being favourites. But revenge is not on the agenda according to Deans, who pointed out the majority of each team's personnel - including the head coach - has changed since those two occasions.
Six players from last year's defeated Australia side will start this weekend, and only four remain for the hosts under new boss Martin Johnson, who captained England to World Cup glory in 2003. "There's been a lot of reference to Marseille but there are not many players left from that game in either team so that just says it all," said Deans. "This is a new game, a new set of players, and the past is the past."
Captain Stirling Mortlock echoed his coach's sentiments, insisting he is not motivated by revenge. "Personally, I will always have memories," he said. "I'll have fond memories of great wins and not-so-fond memories of defeats. That's how sport is. For this match in particular, I will not be dwelling on those memories. I'll be focusing on what we want to achieve and nothing to do with Marseille.
"You can't do anything to change what's already happened. There is a lot of new blood and fresh faces in this team and a lot of excitement about what we're doing. It's a great opportunity to play a full-strength England side in the amazing cauldron that is Twickenham.
"There's a lot of fresh faces in England's team too which adds spice to this game."
Deans admits England are something of an unknown quantity and limited footage has been available to assist preparations. However, he believes this could work in Australia's favour as it means more time in training this week will be focused on his own players and tactics. "We don't have a lot to go on but that means we will focus more on what we do so it's an advantage," he said. "Sometimes you get distracted by what you believe will be coming the other way. Without the second guessing, we focus on ourselves. I think it'll be a very interesting game. Both sides are prepared to take the shackles off in order to get what they seek.
"There's a lot of unknowns but you won't see a frivolous game. It'll be a game that has everything. Twickenham is one of rugby's great destinations and an amazing experience it itself. The boys are very excited about it."
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