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Australian Rugby
Deans happy with competition for places
ESPNscrum Staff
July 16, 2011

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans hopes competition for places will pay dividends as his side chase their first Tri-Nations title since 2001.

Australian entertain Samoa on Sunday in their only Test outing prior to their Tri-Nations opener against South Africa on July 23 and with the Reds' recent Super Rugby triumph fresh in the mind it would appear his players appear to be hitting form just at the right time. But Deans has opted to rest the majority of Reds' players for this weekend's clash and is realistic when it comes to selection emphasising the risk of player burnout.

"This concept of a best XV should play each week just doesn't happen, because individuals can't sustain that week-in, week-out enthusiasm, Deans told the Sydney Morning Herald. "As your physical and mental state wanes so does your performance.

"That's part of the art of managing the squad. It's very much a squad approach now. It revolves around selecting and combining the combinations and the people to best effect to maintain momentum. If you watch the way we prepare, it reflects the way we select and play. We give everyone access and opportunity.

"That drives standards because they compete on the training field. By competing on the training field, they hopefully lift their capabilities and drive each other's performances. They help each other so that the group is better.

"Only a certain number get that opportunity on the weekend to run out in the cauldron, but the wheel turns, and opportunity always presents itself. It is up to how individuals grasp those opportunities."

The Wallabies have been forced into a late change to their starting XV with Reds' winger Rod Davies coming into the side in place of James O'Connor, a move which further confirms the strength in depth at Deans' disposal. The Reds have a strong presence in Australia's 40-man Tri-Nations squad but Deans insists there is "no correlation" between success in the southern hemisphere's premier competition and the international stage.

Despite this, Deans believes that what is happening regionally is fantastic for Australian rugby in general. "I have no doubt we are on the cusp of some really good things in the local game," Deans said. "These are exciting times." Forging the link between the Super Rugby franchises and the national side has been central to Deans' tenure and he has sought the help of Reds head coach Ewen McKenzie throughout the season. However, Deans dismissed any chance of McKenzie, who is strongly tipped to take over from the current Wallaby boss in the future, becoming a permanent addition to his staff.

"Ewen is involved," Deans said. "He spends a lot of time with the group, and we liaise a lot during the Super Rugby season.

"I would like to think that would continue through the international season. He already spends half the year away from his family. I don't think they'd appreciate if I took him away for the other half. People on the outside look at it and may think there's one team other there, and another over here. But the point is, we want the same things.

"We wanted the Reds to get up, and I hope they have the same sense of ownership and hope for our campaign. We are in this together, and we haven't had a lot of success. We just got a Super Rugby victory, the first time since 2004. Now we are pushing on and chasing even bigger pieces of silverware".

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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