Wallabies will be fine for World Cup, says Deans
DAVID LONG AND GEORGINA ROBINSON
No prizes for guessing which is the pool of death for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Wales' defeat to Australia last weekend condemned them to ninth in the world rankings and put them into the third band for yesterday's draw.
The Kurtley Beale try in the 80th minute in Cardiff set up the possibility of Wales being in the same group as England.
Not only has this turned out to be the case, but with the Wallabies also drawn into Pool 1, it pits together three of the world's biggest teams. With only two nations progressing to the quarterfinals, someone is going to end up in tears.
There was a collective gasp that went up from the attendees at the draw at the Tate Modern gallery when the three teams were placed together, and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans became the man all the English media wanted to speak to.
"There will be a lot of comment on our pool without a doubt, based on history, historical strengths and that England are the host nation with Wales in many ways being the second host nation," Deans said.
"It is going to create a lot of interest, but they are all tough pools. It doesn't matter what pool you're in, it's a tough pool and that's the one thing that has become very clear with the World Cup now.
"There was a lot of comment about there being 20 teams and the suggestions that it was too many because some weren't competitive. There are no suggestions about that now; they're all competitive.
"To win the World Cup, ultimately you've got to play and beat the best."
Deans hasn't been able to catch a break as Wallabies coach recently. His side has been ravaged by injuries for the past year and going into such a tough pool will put more pressure on him, especially after last year's disappointing World Cup.
However, instead of having a talented but inexperienced squad like he did in New Zealand, he should have one at its peak by 2015. "I obviously hope so and there is no doubt that they will be a lot more experienced," Deans said.
''This group is just getting started. The exposure of a few extra players this year has made a big difference to our group ... You'll see it first in Super Rugby [then] they'll all want to be involved in the Lions and there's a lot of great rugby coming and we've got a group who are becoming experienced and starting now to work their way through some of those moments of adversity, so they're starting to show some really good traits.
"And most importantly those traits are about 'team' and those ingredients are good. It's competition, the resilience they're starting to show and the commitment to each other they're exhibiting. It doesn't happen overnight.
"I understand we were the youngest side and the Welsh were the second-youngest at the most recent World Cup.
"The profile of both groups was similar - the English are also replenishing their group - but for the guys who've experienced one World Cup, they'll be better for it.
"We have got the Lions series coming and they'll be better for that as well; there is no reason why they can't be in good shape come the World Cup."
Deans also weighed in for the first time on the Quade Cooper controversy, saying he hoped the Reds No 10 would return to the Wallabies, that he would be welcome there, but the decision came down to Cooper.
''It's about what he wants to do, he's shown previously he's perfectly capable of playing at that level,'' he said. ''As a coach you don't allow [Cooper's criticisms] to come into it, you can't.
"''The critical thing with Quade is that he's got to decide what he wants to do. Once again it's got nothing to do with me.''
- Fairfax NZ News and Sydney Morning Herald