Deans plays down Tri-Nations triumph
August 27, 2011
Radike Samo's impressive first-half try helped the Wallabies into a commanding lead © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has played down the significance of his side's Tri-Nations-clinching triumph over New Zealand.
The Wallabies defeated the All Blacks 25-20 in an epic encounter in Brisbane on Saturday to claim the southern hemisphere crown for the first time since 2001 but Deans believes the result is not necessarily an indication of what will happen at this year's Rugby World Cup.
"It's obviously a significant result for us as we haven't done that since 2001, that's a biggie," Deans said. "In terms of the World Cup it's irrelevant. If anything we've probably just put the bar up. But we'll take some real value out of it. The All Blacks got back on top and looked ominous but these blokes kept their nerve, got their hands on the ball and produced enough pressure to get the result - so that's an important step for us.
"The momentum in the game changed and the All Blacks got back on top and looked ominous but these blokes kept their nerve, got their hands on the ball and produced enough pressure to get the result so that's an important step for us. We've had stanzas of good play in some of our recent meetings against these blokes but we hadn't gone the 80 (minutes), and that's what we had to do and we got there."
All Blacks coach Graham Henry echoed Deans' comments though he will be hurting from a defeat to their Trans-Tasman rivals. And Henry will look for significant improvement come the World Cup after his side were blown away in an impressive first-half performance from their Australian counterparts.
"To win the Tri-Nations trophy contested by the three top teams in the world is a major achievement," Henry said. "We're disappointed the way we started the game. Proud of the way the guys came back in the second.
"Going back over the history, there's no blueprint that winning a Tri-Nations is the recipe for winning a Rugby World Cup.If there was any complacency in this group, it's well gone now. I think that will be an advantage going forward hopefully.
"Some guys would have been disappointed in how they played, didn't play as well as they normally played and didn't play to the standard that they played to get into the side. Some people will be disappointed they didn't take advantage of the opportunity tonight."
Henry is set to sweat on an update on a potentially devastating ankle injury suffered by No.8 Kieran Read. Read suffered a high ankle sprain in the 12th minute and was immediately replaced by Victor Vito; he will have scans when the squad returns to Auckland today and the All Blacks management will be praying the injury is not as serious as it appeared.
An integral member of the All Blacks premier loose trio, Read would only rank behind Daniel Carter and Richie McCaw among the pecking order of players head coach Graham Henry could ill afford to lose before, or during, the World Cup. In an ominous sign Read's All Blacks and Crusaders team-mate Sam Whitelock suffered a high ankle sprain while playing the Sharks at Twickenham on March 27 - a setback that ruled him out of the Super rugby season until June.
If scans suggest Read's ankle is similarly affected then an area of All Black power will be drastically reduced when the Cup starts on September 9. Vito, one of the last players added to the All Blacks World Cup squad, performed admirably in a rearranged trio also hampered by the loss of Adam Thomson but Read - who is seen as Richie McCaw's successor as captain - is practically irreplaceable. Thomson, meanwhile, hyper-extended an elbow about the same time as a prone Read clutched his lower leg.
"We're not sure how serious those (injuries)," said Henry, as he began an anxious wait. McCaw, who also needed treatment during the Wallabies ferocious beginning, emphasised Read's importance to their combination with Jerome Kaino, the blindside flanker who was rested from last night's encounter. "Kieran's a big loss. He's a hell of a good player when he's fit and running around," said a philosophical McCaw. "That's the challenge you get in rugby isn't it? When guys get injured."
Thomson, who filled in for Kaino, played on until late in the first half - a missed tackle on Radike Samo as the No.8 embarked in his 60-metre run for the Wallabies second try saw him replaced by Ali Williams. Starting lock Sam Whitelock moved to the flank, a position he has occasionally played for Canterbury. If Read does miss the World Cup Henry has the option on switching McCaw or Kaino to the back of the scrum, persisting with Vito or calling in a replacement.
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