Deans highlights history

Robbie Deans says the Qantas Wallabies have been tapping into the last British & Irish Lions tour in the hope of securing a repeat success this time around. [more]

Deans highlights history

Robbie Deans says the Qantas Wallabies have been tapping into the last British & Irish Lions tour in the hope of securing a repeat success this time around.

Deans has ensured all of his squad are fully aware of just how important and unique a Lions series will be ahead of Saturday’s opening Test in Brisbane.

The 53-year-old former full back beat the Lions with Canterbury in his native New Zealand 30 years ago, scoring 18 points courtesy of a try, four penalties and a conversion in a 22-20 victory.

But while Deans has first-hand experience of all that a Lions tour brings, none of his squad have featured against Britain and Ireland’s elite in a Test match and many would have been too young to really remember the most recent trip to Australia in 2001.

So to make certain that those wearing the green and gold will know just what awaits them this weekend, Deans has called on former players, coaches and match action to get his men up to speed.

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“The nature of the occasion is not only unique in rugby, it’s unique in world sport. If you go back and look at 2001 and the first Test match it was different from any other Test that has been played since then and prior to then,” said Deans.

“We tapped into some players who have experienced it. We’ve also tapped into the likes of (2001 series winning coach) Rod Macqueen and we’ve had the benefit of being able to look at some footage.

“It was… just to gain an insight because it only happens once every 12 years so none of these blokes have experienced it. Some of them were young men when it last happened so they didn’t witness it so we’ve done what we can to ensure that we’re well informed.

“We’ve done everything that we can, but there’s nothing like feeling it and these blokes are going to be lucky enough to get that.”

The last time the two sides met in the capital of Queensland ranks as one of the most memorable matches in Lions history.

Graham Henry’s men ran out 29-13 winners at The Gabba but it was the atmosphere off the field that really fired the imagination and will live longest in the memory of anyone who was in the vicinity 12 years ago.

“It’s going to be an epic occasion. For those of us who were lucky enough to witness it, 2001 was huge,” added Deans, who wasn’t in Brisbane himself but was left in no doubt as to the magnitude of the event and is expecting something similar this time around.

“The passion that came out in that Test was just another level. The context contributes to it: it’s unique to have so many (of the) supporting public backing the away side. It’s a totally unique context for a sporting event to get that clear split and delineation of passion.

“There was the noise that emanated from the crowd, particularly in support of the Lions, and we got the response through the second and third Tests for the Wallabies. I trust that our systems have improved so that we won’t have as much red in the audience, but the occasion itself will be similar.”

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