ARU ready to battle for Deans
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver says he'll go into bat for Robbie Deans against the Super Rugby franchises to ensure the Wallabies aren't sitting ducks for the British and Irish Lions in June.
Pulver says he's pushing for the Wallabies to have a three-week camp leading into the first Test against the Lions on June 22 and is prepared to cop plenty of heat from dissatisfied Australian Conference teams, who as a result will be without their stars for round 17 of the Super Rugby season.
Coach Deans said history had proven preparation was essential in tackling the might of the Lions, who have five warm-up games on Australian soil before the first Test compared to the Wallabies' none.
Pulver said he would finalise a camp in the coming days, whether the franchises like it or not.
"I'm not sure that we'll get a consensus view on that. Clearly they want to have their players available for every Super Rugby game," said Pulver at Monday's announcement of 100 days until the tour begins.
"My priority is that Robbie has the right preparation in order to make sure we beat the Lions.
"Clearly Robbie's going to get all the support he needs in terms of getting that group together ideally three weeks ahead of that first game.
"I've got to get back and speak with the various Super Rugby franchises over the next couple of days but we'll be getting an announcement out imminently."
If a three-week Wallabies camp was to take place, the Brumbies v Melbourne and Western Force v NSW fixtures from June 7-9 would be severely impacted, with stars withdrawn.
In 2001, Australia defeated the Lions for the first time in a Test series - but only after losing the first match.
Even with a best-case scenario of three weeks, Deans' preparation time will be inferior to the three weeks and warm-up game Rod Macqueen enjoyed 12 years ago.
The Wallabies are to meet for a one-day gathering in April, before the yet-to-be determined lead-in camp.
Deans said the reality was his players would have to make the most of a short preparation.
"Obviously wherever it ends up it's not going to be large, but we've just got to make the most of the time we get," Deans said.
"Preparation is key. You've only got to listen to Rod Macqueen. We were fortunate enough that Rod came in and spoke to us yesterday and he spoke about the fact that their preparation for the first Test in 2001 was negligent. It was insufficient and hence the outcome.
"Wherever we finish up we won't have as much as they had."
Despite boasting a bevy of Wallabies in his line-up, Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said his club would grin and bear the ARU's decision of a Lions camp.
"There's nothing we can do about it really. We'll just go with whatever's been thrown out and take it on," Cheika said.
Meanwhile, Pulver said the ARU's board of directors had expressed interest in his idea for a third-tier competition to complement Australia's Super Rugby franchises - but a plan was yet to be formulated.