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No 'tokenism' in Wallaby selection

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Sportal.co.nz     02 Sep 2009     Getty Images

Deans has high hopes for what the inexperienced duo could produce against the Springboks, and denied he had made wholesale changes for the purpose of sending a message to the squad.

"We clearly believe in all the blokes we picked, this is by no means tokenism, nor is it a stick," Deans said.

"These guys who are getting their first start have earned their right - it's not something that we've taken lightly.

"They've all shown already that they're perfectly capable ... it's not a big step in so far as you've already seen these players play, and do well, so it's not as if we're clutching at straws."

Deans continued to preach the mantra of form over reputation, but said players like out-of-sorts prop Al Baxter could still force their way back into the Australian side.

"Al will play club rugby this week, and as has always been the case with all the players that play club rugby, it is important," he said.

"What they do there is important, without going into detail I can tell you that selection choices have been impacted on through club performances."

Deans had similar words of support for regular halfback Luke Burgess, who found himself benched at the expense of Genia.

"Luke is still a very big part of us and our future. That's a given, because he doesn't have number nine on his back on the weekend doesn't mean he's any different to last week.

"He's still a part of the Wallabies and still a big part of our future and he's working hard to that end."

Quade Cooper trained on Tuesday and Deans expects the utility to be fit for the weekend.

The Wallabies boss suggested he could have rushed Nathan Sharpe back into the side, but wanted to give the veteran plenty of time to overcome his shoulder injury.

"We could have pushed him on Thursday to see if he was able to get through, but we just don't see the point now.

"He's important to us in the long run, it's an area where we don't have a lot of depth so we didn't want to break him - particularly when we do have a few blokes who are fit and raring to go."

Berrick Barnes has been named at second five-eighths, but Deans reckons he would be regularly trading places with first five-eighths Matt Giteau.

"The numbers on their back aren't relevant to be honest, you'll see them in both roles during the game."