Lions one up says Deans

Robbie Deans reckons the Lions have a "huge advantage" over the Wallabies heading into the first Test in Brisbane on June 22 thanks to a supposedly more favourable build up. [more]

Lions one up says Deans

Robbie Deans reckons the Lions have a "huge advantage" over the Wallabies heading into the first Test in Brisbane on June 22 thanks to a supposedly more favourable build up.

Despite being granted three weeks to prepare his squad – with a quarantine period from Super Rugby agreed under an Australian Rugby Union directive – Deans has described his country’s preparation as the “shortest in the history of the game for a Lions series”.

The comments have already been ridiculed in the British and Irish press given the fact that the tourists will be meeting up after a grueling season of domestic rugby and with league and European finals taking place just days before they head to Hong Kong.

But despite the fact that the Lions will be severely pushed for time before their 125th anniversary tour, Deans is adamant that it is his side who will start the series on the back foot.

“There’s no doubt that the Lions will have a huge advantage in terms of entering the series,” said Deans.

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“You go back to 2001 and the Wallabies had similar time (to prepare) but with a (warm-up) game, so it was obviously a more complete prep and they got spanked in the first Test.”

After facing the Barbarians on June 1, the Lions will play five matches Down Under – against the Force, the Reds, a combined New South Wales/Queensland Country XV, the Waratahs and the Brumbies – before the series opener but they will have been together less than a month prior to that mouthwatering encounter at the Suncorp Stadium.

The Wallabies will have plenty of time to get acquainted on and off the training field having already met up as a 49-man squad earlier this year but Deans is keen to highlight a lack of match practice prior to the Test series.

And the current Wallabies boss is backed up by the man in charge the last time the Lions headed Down Under, with Rod Macqueen warning against a “first test ambush” similar to that experienced in 2001 when the World Champions lost the first test 29-13 at The Gabba.

“The reality is (the Lions) will have something like six matches before they meet with the Wallabies and before they have those they'll go into a camp in the United Kingdom,” said Macqueen.

“On the way through they'll play a Barbarians side in Hong Kong and that gives them time to gel as a team.

“If we're genuine in saying we want to put our best foot forward and give ourselves a chance we have to do everything we can to ensure the Wallabies are as well prepared as possible.”

Deans is determined that will be the case and, although ARU chief executive Bill Pulver has left the door ajar for some players to be released back to their teams on a 'case-by-case basis', the New Zealander has stressed that the Lions series must take priority over Super Rugby.

''The door's been left open to some extent around circumstances at the time. I've been in that context myself (as coach of the Crusaders) and we understand they've got campaigns of their own that they want to do well in,” added Deans.

“But it will still be the shortest preparation so we will want the group with us to prepare solely.”

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