Wallabies to beat Lions - Jake White
April 22, 2013
The Reds and the Brumbies could not be separated after a titanic battle (video available only in Australia)%]
The Wallabies are poised to beat the British & Irish Lions if team selections focus on a core of in-form Brumbies and Queensland Reds players, Jake White said after the titanic Super Rugby draw at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night.
The teams combined to provide flashes of rapier attacking play with resilient defence as they produced Test-like intensity in a classic fixture. Much has been made of the likelihood of a physical tour squad from Britain and Ireland, and that the Wallabies risked being outmuscled and overpowered, but the Reds and the Brumbies players showed they will take a backwards step against no-one. Allied with the improved efforts of New South Wales Waratahs to beat the defending Super Rugby champions the Chiefs last weekend, and Western Force standing firm to deny the Crusaders the previous weekend, and White believes Australia can look forward to a series victory against the Lions.
"One thing you've got to be proud about is that if you look at the last couple of weeks, Australian sides are starting to dominate," White said in the aftermath to the Reds-Brumbies.fixture, noting that Australian teams are better placed on the ladder after 10 rounds than at any time since 2002. The Brumbies top the standings with 35 points, while the Reds have more points than any other team and the Waratahs are just two points out of the play-off spots after they defeated the Chiefs.
"A lot of people spoke about it maybe being a case where the Aussie conference was not that strong but now you have two sides battling it out at the top of the table. I think Australian rugby is healthy. There's no reason - when all these players are fit and available, and you pick the right team - that Australia can't beat the Lions. It's happened before. It's about making sure that the choices are just right."
White's comments echoed those of Robbie Deans, who described the Reds-Brumbies match as "great prep for what's coming".
"You can't fault what the players brought to the table", Deans said in a post-match interview on Fox Sports, saying he was very happy with the shape and form of his players ahead of the Lions series. "There's no doubt the number of blokes who had a taste of international rugby last year, they've come back to Super Rugby level and they're approaching their work with a lot more ambition. They're expecting a lot more out of it now. It's very competitive. It's good for us."
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Deans, who described the efforts of his players in Super Rugby teams as "superb", saying "clearly these blokes want to play the Lions [and] it'll drive standards", mentioned specifically that Brumbies captain Ben Mowen, and inside centre Christian Lealiifano - players considered previously by pundits to be fringe squad contenders only - were firmly in his thoughts.
And he said that Quade Cooper remained in contention for the No. 10 jumper despite his headline omission from the Wallabies logistics camp the previous week. "It's a ridiculous suggestion," Deans said when asked whether Cooper was not in mind for the squad. "We know what Quade's capable of. We can see he's very keen to play international rugby again. He's working on some of the detail. You look at some of his restarts, goalkicking, they're good times; he wants in."
Israel Folau was among the stars as the Waratahs beat the Chiefs (video available only in Australia)
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