Deans backs debutants

Qantas Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans says he picked his Test team for Saturday's opening international based on how his side plans to play rather than on what The British & Irish Lions will bring to the table. [more]

Deans backs debutants

Qantas Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans says he picked his Test team for Saturday’s opening international based on how his side plans to play rather than on what The British & Irish Lions will bring to the table.

Deans named three debutants in his starting XV, with cross-code star Israel Folau chosen on the right wing, inform Christian Lealiifano picked at inside centre and Brumbies captain Ben Mowen winning selection on the blindside flank.

And the man hoping to ensure the Lions’ 16-year losing series run continues is backing his new boys to deliver on the big stage.

“We’ve witnessed the Lions play. We’ve obviously built our game, and we’ve built our game pretty much around what we bring to the table and we’ve concentrated on the things we can influence,” said Deans.

“For Izzy, it’s not really a debut – he’s played international sport before (in rugby league). One of the advantages that Israel has is that they’ve never faced him previously. They will have witnessed what he’s capable of and they’ll be wanting to limit that because he’s a bloke that makes things happen when he gets on the ball. And it’s fully our intention to get the ball in his hands.

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“Christian’s a very well rounded player. He’s had another year of Super Rugby and he’s been a big part of the emergence of the Brumbies. He’s opened up the edges of the field and he’s also got a huge work rate defensively.

“Benny is a very experienced player now at Super Rugby level. He’s led (the Brumbies), he’s equipped and he’s ready to go. He’s proved that against his peers and these blokes have been going toe-to-toe for 15 rounds now. I’ve no qualms there, he’s risen to those challenges. He’s been close previously but he’s kept taking little steps and we have no concerns there. Most importantly, they’ve all earned the right through their play.”

Deans has been working with his players for three straight weeks now and he is convinced they are more than ready for what he admits will be a huge battle in Brisbane.

Much has been made of whether the Lions’ preparations of six warm up matches or the Wallabies’ methods of training heavily together but not facing outside opposition will prove to be the wiser come Saturday but Deans is more than happy with his own side’s build up.

We’ve made the most of the time we’ve had and I can assure you that they’ll hit the ground running. They know what’s coming,” added Deans.

“We’ve obviously tapped into the past, we’ve prepared as best as we can and we can’t do any more without playing to be frank. There’d be a limited return from anything we could do now other than playing, and we’re looking forward to it.

“The Lions have been building combinations, they’ve been building their game, they’ve played very well and we know it’s going to be a tough Test match. We intend to bring a fair amount to that, just as the Lions will.

“It’s going to be a battle of wills. Momentum is a big part of Test rugby so the side that can generate a bit of momentum will have a greater opportunity to impose their will on the opposition. We hope to bring some momentum into the game and play off the back of that because we’ve got the capacity to play.”

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