Rugby: Playing All Blacks is good for us - Deans

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images

SYDNEY - Dispirited Wallabies supporters might disagree, but coach Robbie Deans says the more Australia plays New Zealand the better it will be for his developing team.

World No.2 ranked Australia start their seven-match spring tour in Hong Kong next Saturday trying to break a record 10-match losing streak against the All Blacks.

Deans tasted victory in his first match against the country of his birth in 2008, but the All Blacks have won every subsequent encounter during his tenure.

"It's great to have them again, we have them every second week essentially," Deans joked.

"But that's good for us. They are the top-ranked side in the world and that's what we aspire to.

"So the more often we play them, the better it will be for us."

Skipper Rocky Elsom was wary of Australia's other Test opponents on tour, while careful not to look past New Zealand.

Following their clash with the All Blacks, Australia play Tests against the world's ninth-ranked Wales, England (6th), Italy (11th) and France (4th).

"We have New Zealand first up and that's what we're focusing on and I guess when you look further into the tour there's some good sides there," Elsom said.

"Wales play a great style of rugby, England are on the improve, France are probably the best team in Europe at the moment and we've never cruised through against Italy in Italy.

"There's a fair amount of competition for us."

While Deans' first choice goalkicker Matt Giteau has had accuracy problems in the odd Test, the coach stressed he was building up a stable of goalkickers rather than relying on any individual.

Deans has plenty of kickers to choose from on tour, with Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper, Berrick Barnes and James O'Connor.

"If it's the first bloke picked, you just do it on a straight percentage basis and it will be Matt Giteau," Deans said.

"But there's many things you consider, obviously that is an important priority.

"Hence we've got not only Gits working hard at it, but a large number of kickers.

"That's one of the things that's really come out of the last few months is we are starting to build a stable of kickers."

Elsom is leading a squad containing seven uncapped players and several Test rookies, but was happy with the blend of youth and experience.

"We've got some young guys, but they've had experience at top level. I think a lot of the guys playing through the Tri-Nations will be invaluable for us, so I think that's one of the positives going into this tour," Elsom said.

- AAP

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