Rugby: Deans' warning to Wallabies

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

Robbie Deans has warned his Jekyll and Hyde Wallabies that anything less than a complete performance against the stewing Springboks will end in another Tri Nations disaster in Durban on Saturday.

With boarding passes to next month's Rugby World Cup on the line at Kings Park, Deans is demanding a massive improvement on last Saturday's meek loss to the All Blacks and says only a steely resolve will do.

After South Africa's second-string touring side leaked 11 tries in heavy defeats to Australia and New Zealand, 10 well-rested World Cup-winning Springboks "with a point to prove" return to the hosts' starting outfit.

"This Springboks side that's gathered is one that has a lot of history," Deans said ahead of the Wallabies' last chance to notch a meaningful away win before challenging for the Webb Ellis Cup in New Zealand.

"They understand the meaning of it, they understand the importance of it and this is their first outing (together for the year) and it's a very short stretch before the World Cup, so they'll want to start well.

"They'll want to make a statement. So if we're in any way underdone in terms of expectation, we'll get smacked. It's that simple."

With Boks coach Peter de Villiers delivering his own star-studded side a similar message, the stage it set for an intense, potentially brutal, encounter between two teams desperate for redemption and some pre-World Cup momentum.

De Villiers is predicting the Wallabies will try to run his returning Boks ragged with expansive rugby, but Deans has cautioned his exuberant x-factor backline against making the same mistake it made at Eden Park.

The Wallabies coach wants his side advancing forward and pushing through the gain line before Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Digby Ioane and James O'Connor weave their magic.

"Obviously the Boks are a totally different team profile from the one we encountered in Sydney and, as a result of that, the way they approach the game will be different," Deans said.

"We understand that. We've got to do our best to defuse that and then earn the right to play ourselves."

After satisfying Deans with a more "industrious" display against the All Blacks in just his fourth match in eight months, Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom will be eager to have an even greater impact after copping a nasty spray from former Test fullback Greg Martin during the week.

Martin questioned Elsom's leadership qualities and said the flanker was lucky to even be in the side on current form.

"The more you make it a bigger issue, the more it takes your mind off what you really need to do," Elsom said.

"On any level when you have criticism, you can always play well enough for that to go away and I think the motivation to do that is never to make it go away.

"That's a by-product of playing really well and the team functioning really well.

"The focus for us is for the team to be playing well and my role in it that is being as effective as (I can be).

"It's naive to chase personal glory to try and stave off some kind of criticism you might be getting."

The Wallabies have won four of their past five Tests against the Boks, including last year's thrilling first victory at highveld in 47 years in Bloemfontein, but Deans said that "means nothing".

"It's history," he said.

- AAP

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