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Tri-Nations
Deans accepts underdog tag
Scrum.com
July 8, 2010

Australia coach Robbie Deans is happy to concede that his side are huge underdogs in this season's Tri-Nations.

After a scratchy June Test schedule, which brought wins over Fiji and Ireland and a shared series with England, Deans is the first to admit that South Africa and New Zealand, who go head-to-head in Auckland on Saturday, have opened up a big lead over the chasing pack.

"They've come out of June in great shape both of them, there's no doubt," Deans said. "And hence they're ranked one and two in the world and there's some distance back to the rest of the world, that's evident. And we're chasing.

"The rankings are pretty clear, everyone's seen them and everyone knows them and that's our challenge and our opportunity is to try and adjust our place in the world."

Deans' men enter the Tri-Nations fray in Brisbane on July 24, with South Africa the visitors, and their coach is eyeing an improvement in performance, and being competitive is the minimum requirement.

"We're going into a competition that's a step up again," he said. "If you look at it from a purely outcome perspective we achieved all we could [in June after retaining the Cook and Lansdowne Cups].

"But if you look at it from a performance perspective clearly we've got some needs. And they're needs that we're going to have to cater for if we are to be competitive in the first instance and successful in the second."

Deans' Tri-Nations squad was unhappy reading for Waratahs wingers Drew Mitchell and Lachie turner, but the discarded duo could find a route back to the Test table should Digby Ioane and Peter Hynes fail to recover from injuries.

"There are still two players to be confirmed and part of our thinking there is around the need to confirm the status of in particular a couple of outside backs in Peter Hynes and Digby Ioane, who are both coming back from injury," Deans said. "And you would have noticed that we've only got two hookers and two half-backs at this stage as well."

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