Wallaby boss Robbie Deans reckons the fight for Lions shirts will add an even greater spice to Australia’s autumn tour.
The Wallabies have just five scheduled matches before the Lions arrive Down Under in 2013 so his own players will be desperate to impress in the third Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand on October 20 and the autumn Tests against France, England, Italy and Wales.
And it’s not just in the Wallaby set up that the chance of being involved with the latest Lions tour will have an added edge this autumn – Deans knows every single Home Nations star will be out to send a message to Warren Gatland ahead of his squad selection next spring.
Australia end their four-match European tour in Cardiff against reigning Grand Slam Champions Wales and Deans is expecting that Millennium Stadium match up to be a massive battle, despite the fact that his men have beaten Gatland’s troops on five occasions in the past 12 months.
“With British & Irish Lions jumpers on the line, and the chance to match up against our best in a prelude to what is coming during that series in Australia next year, we know that we will be facing a Welsh side at the peak of its powers,” Deans told the Welsh Rugby Union.
“The intensity of the rivalry between Australia and Wales was evidenced by the closeness of the three contests in Australia during the summer, which followed on from two equally tight games which closed out 2011.
“I’m sure December 1 will provide more of the same. The Millennium Stadium is one of the great venues in world rugby… and it should be a fantastic contest.
“The fact that it is home to Europe’s best team – the two-time Grand Slam winner of the last four years – only makes the challenge that awaits even greater. It will be, as always, an occasion that both our players and the Australian public at large look forward to.”