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Deans relishing time with team

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Sportal.co.nz     29 Oct 2008     Getty Images

Deans, a former All Black, took over the Wallabies helm in June this year and subsequently won six of his first seven games in charge - a run that included a 34-19 triumph over his countrymen in Sydney and a 27-15 success against South Africa in Durban.

"We have had a tendency to complicate things," he said.

"Essentially the game is about physical confrontation and the manipulation of time and space but what can happen if we complicate our approach is that players become so anxious about whether they're in the right place or doing the right thing they don't maximise what they're doing.

"To take the complex and make it simple is probably a better way of describing it."

It has not been such a smooth ride of late as a record hammering at the hands of the Springboks was followed by a heartbreaking four-point loss to New Zealand in Brisbane which cost Australia both the Philips Tri Nations title and the Bledisloe Cup.

Saturday's historic clash at Hong Kong Stadium, the first time a Bledisloe Cup contest has taken place outside of Australasia, is the start of a six-game tour for Australia that takes in games in Italy, England, France and Wales before ending with an encounter against the Barbarians at Wembley.

While undoubtedly a gruelling schedule, it represents the first time Deans has had the opportunity to work with his squad for an extended period - coming on the heels of a month-long preparatory period - and will allow him to further stamp his mark on the side.
"We've just gone from game to game up until now so I've had an opportunity to do a bit in preparation," Deans added.

"It's a very important tour, a fantastic opportunity for these blokes and without a doubt a testing ground and it's an opportunity for these guys to become part of the nucleus of the side.

"We've got to live week to week, we've got to have a short-term focus but there's some things that you continually try to build and get better at that will serve you well in the long run.

"It's identical to a club team. You've got to cater for your short-term needs as well as long-term goals. The reality is six Tests back to back... we can't play the same blokes week in and week out, it would not serve us well but what's going to happen and who's going to be involved, I don't know.

"At the end of this we'll be better for the experience regardless of outcomes."

New Zealand coach Graham Henry has sprung somewhat of a surprise in naming Stephen Donald at first five-eighths and moving Dan Carter to second five-eighths for Saturday's game and Wallabies utility back Matt Giteau believes it will make a powerful line even more dangerous.

"It's interesting, when he [Donald] came on in Brisbane he made a big difference, I thought he played really well," said the 26-year-old.

"They've got two genuine ball-playing options, it makes them a bit more dangerous. It shows how they want to play, they want to move the ball around.

"I'm not really surprised by it. I think the way they play may change a few things defensively for us but in attack we've had our game plan set for a little while now, there's little things that we're still working on but I don't think it changes things too much."

However, Giteau also believes the relatively untested combination could prove to be a weak link.

"I think before any team was picked there are areas we can exploit. It could work well for them, it could backfire, that's their selection, we can only control our side and how we perform. I don't worry too much about it," he added.

Deans was also unperturbed by the All Blacks' selection.

"I had a wee suspicion that they were looking at that area, it worked well for them late in the Test in Brisbane so they'll be looking for a similar outcome," he said.

"I'm not surprised, I had an inkling that they would be considering that position. It is interesting that they've opted to shift Carter to centre because they had other ways and means."