Wallaby boss wants to ‘thump’ Lions

The chairman of the Australian Rugby Union says the Wallabies are desperate to 'thump' the Lions next summer. [more]

Wallaby boss wants to ‘thump’ Lions

The chairman of the Australian Rugby Union says the Wallabies are desperate to ‘thump’ the Lions next summer.

The Green and Gold are determined to ensure they repeat their 2001 heroics when they overcame a 1-0 deficit to secure a 2-1 series triumph over Britain and Ireland’s elite thanks to thrilling victories in Melbourne and Sydney.

But the mood in Australia ahead of the latest Lions adventure is mixed, with the current crop of Aussies having just endured a difficult and often frustrating year that has seen the side decimated by injuries and coach Robbie Deans bombarded by criticism.

Yet despite a tough 12 months, ARU chairman Michael Hawker has made it clear he is convinced the Wallabies can see off the Lions once more as he dismissed calls for Deans to be sacked before the Lions arrive Down Under.

"Next year is a huge year. (The Lions tour) always creates a huge wave of anticipation in this country, seeing the best of the northern hemisphere come here," said Hawker.

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"We're pretty keen to try and thump them.

"I think for coaches every year is make or break. That's the nature of coaching. I don't think Robbie takes anything for granted.

"For us, I think everyone in the Australian public is pretty keen to win all the games.

"So is Robbie, and he'll do the best he can to do that. In the board's view we've got every chance of defeating the Lions next year."

The Wallabies finished 2012 with three victories from four on their European tour despite a shocking 33-6 defeat to France in their opening fixture.

Wins over England, Italy and Wales ensured they ended the year on a high results wise, although they could easily have been held to a draw by the Azzurri and were heading to defeat in Cardiff until Kurtley Beale’s 80th-minute intervention heaped more last-gasp heartache on Warren Gatland and co.

A second place finish in the Rugby Championship was respectable enough given that the All Blacks were always odds on to top the table but the manner of their defeats to their trans-Tasman neighbours in Sydney and Auckland, the 31-point mauling to the Springboks in Pretoria and the narrow win over Argentina on the Gold Coast, led to a winter of discontent among large sections of the Aussie media and the rugby public at large.

Defeat to Scotland in a one-off Test in June and the fact that the two of the three games against the Welsh that same month were only won by the slimmest of margins had failed to bring ringing endorsement of Deans’ regime, either.

But Hawker has always been keen to look at the bigger picture, one that Lions coach Gatland has also regularly reiterated when assessing the strength of the Wallaby challenge.

"From the Australian Rugby Union we're happy with where the Australian team is," added Hawker.

"You've got to put the Wallabies’ performance in context with how many injuries we've had.

"We've had 55 people play for the Wallabies this year which is a pretty broad number of players and so we've had an unusual level of injury rate.

"You look at some of the international teams (and) if you took Dan Carter and Richie McCaw out in New Zealand you have a different proposition.

"We'd like to have less injuries and I think if we didn't have as many injuries we'd have been right up the top."

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