The man who is expected to attempt to plot the Lions’ downfall in three years time claims Australian rugby is getting stronger and stronger.
Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans is convinced that his adopted country has more strength in depth than at any time since his appointment in 2007.
The converted Kiwi’s comments come at a time when critics have been playing down Australia’s chances of jumping up the IRB World Rankings after they were hit with a substantial number of injuries to key players.
Star scrum-half Will Genia is a doubt for the opening internationals against Fiji and England; hooker Stephen Moore and prop Benn Robinson are sidelined until at least late July; and lock James Horwill and No8 Wycliff Palu are out for the season.
But despite that lengthy list, Deans is confident that he has enough quality players at his disposal to impress in four Test matches next month and then the Tri Nations.
"We have more depth,” said Deans when discussing selection dilemmas for the Wallabies’ summer schedule.
"We’ve been working towards being able to roll with those injuries and form and not be totally reliant on a few. We’re getting to the point now where that’s becoming a reality."
Deans also points to the improvement of the Australian sides in this year’s Super 14, with the Waratahs securing a semi-final spot and the Reds and Brumbies narrowly missing out on a place in the top four.
"This time last year Willie (Genia) had never played for the Wallabies and we had no teams in the Super 14 playoffs," added Deans.
"We now have three in the top six and one in the playoffs.
"The franchises have hung in and achieved results where a year prior they would have capitulated.
"Obviously, we can only pick so many players but it puts in a context of having to make some choices where, to be frank, up until now we haven’t really had to because there’s only been a pool of players that we believe were genuinely of international standard.
"But we’ve grown that pool, and it’s evident by the movement on the table in Super rugby – it’s great. And we’ve got people pushing up from underneath and, with that, they’ll bubble out the top.
"That competitive element is critical in terms of driving standards."
Deans will name his 40-man squad for the tests against Fiji, England and Ireland after the Waratahs complete their Super 14 commitments. The New South Wales Franchise face the Stormers in Cape Town this Sunday, with the final taking place a week on Saturday.