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Time To Emerge From Darkness Say Wallabies

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Time To Emerge From Darkness Say Wallabies

Sydney, July 14 NZPA - It's been seven years since the Wallabies last hoisted rugby's Bledisloe Cup aloft, and even longer since they were called Tri-Nations champions.

Could this be the year the itch is finally scratched?

Wallabies fans could never be labelled pessimistic, but this year more than a few are walking with bounce in their stride.

Some have even reached for their wallets and plonked some hard-earned on their team, Tri-Nations outsiders at $3 with Australia's TAB Sportsbet.

The television ads have cranked up ahead of the Eden Park opener, imploring the Wallabies: "it's time to emerge from the darkness".

Coach Robbie Deans stares icily from the screen, tapping his temple.

"It's all up here," he says.

Deans has already predicted this Tri-Nations would be the best yet, as his side chase their first title since 2001.

The draw has treated them well, with just one match in South Africa (Cape Town) before three in a row at home, starting with the August 22 Bledisloe in Sydney.

It's year two of Deans' tenure, in which he hopes his side can show a ruthless streak missing in 2008 when the All Blacks toppled them in Brisbane and Hong Kong to clinch the Bledisloe/Tri-Nations double for a fourth straight year.

Phase one went to script as they dispatched Italy twice before keeping a fiery French side try-less at ANZ Stadium, star pivot Matt Giteau scoring all their points in a 22-6 win.

They conceded just one try in the June tests as Deans' watertight defensive patterns boded well for their Tri-Nations chances.

Unlike the All Blacks, the Wallabies began the season with a full strength side, mercifully unhindered by injuries expect returning flanker Rocky Elsom who will miss Saturday's opener.

His fellow loose forward, the indestructible George Smith, will play his 100th test at Eden Park.

The Lote Tuqiri sacking provided a solitary negative, although Deans had already shown his hand by not selecting the big winger for the June tests.

"Obviously it's been of interest to them and a bit of a distraction," Deans said amid reports of player unrest towards the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) over the sacking.

"But now that we are together they are aware that it's not their issue, it's an ARU matter and the ARU are dealing with it and they are here to play rugby."

Deans admitted they were "thrown in the deep end", with their opener at Eden Park, where they haven't won since 1986. But he added breaking their duck in Auckland would be a significant motivation.

An upbeat captain Stirling Mortlock, the cornerstone of an exciting Wallabies backline, predicted the Auckland would be "a brutal affair".

"If we can keep on making strides forward at set piece time and the cohesiveness of the backline is improving as well, our kicking game has been improving, things are looking good," Mortlock said.


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