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Deans Feels Heat After Turbulent Weeks

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Robbie Deans
Robbie Deans

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Tokyo, Oct 30 NZPA - Talk of player dissatisfaction, too much player power and increasing edginess at board level isn't something Robbie Deans is used to as a rugby coach.

But with that swirling around his Wallabies side in recent weeks, and a new captain in Rocky Elsom, he tackles the All Blacks here tomorrow knowing a poor performance may even begin rumblings about his job on the eve of the European grand slam tour.

Not that you'd pick it from the poker-faced Deans, Super rugby's most successful coach who was hailed as the messiah when Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss John O'Neill proudly secured his signature in late 2007.

"To be honest I think it's been a great year for me in coaching. There's not a lot of difference in terms of the demands of the job between when you're actually getting up and just missing out," Deans insisted today, ahead of the test against the All Blacks at the National Stadium here.

Injuries have already set back Deans' preparations, with former captain Stirling Mortlock ruled out with a torn calf then new vice-captain Berrick Barnes sidelined yesterday after rolling an ankle.

A reshuffle will see the relatively untried midfield combination of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Ryan Cross opposing Hurricanes duo Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

"I've got no doubt that this experience with this group will pay dividends. You never enjoy injuries, so to see the players suffer misfortune and miss out isn't too much fun for anyone," Deans said.

"But it's not about me it's about the Wallabies and what they do. We've got a great group who've worked hard and I think you'll see evidence of that tomorrow.

"We're hopeful of turning on a performance that the rugby public of Japan will really enjoy."

Accurate reports in recent weeks had first five-eighth Matt Giteau unhappy with being passed over for the vice-captaincy -- which he inherits by default tomorrow -- and Mortlock miffed at the lack of communication about his removal as skipper.

Deans also benched 105-test veteran George Smith, who led the side in the 6-33 loss in Wellington.

The abrasive loose forward Elsom plays his first test as captain, having rarely skippered a team at any level.

He was keen to stamp his mark on the match and insisted the Wallabies' lengthy buildup had them in the right frame of mind.

"We don't want to think they're that far ahead of us, no matter what we say, it's what we do," Elsom said.

"You'll know at the end of the game how far ahead of us they are and whether or not they've turned the knife in us.

"My performance is crucial, if you want to be leading guys you've got to be playing well and reinforcing the values you're trying to promote."


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