Every RWC game 'like a final'
Sydney - As far as the Wallabies are concerned, there are no easy World Cup games.
According to Rugby Heaven correspondent, Greg Growden, the Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is pushing the point to his players that they have to treat every pool match, no matter how inferior the opposition, as if it is a final.
While the Wallabies should cruise through the pool stage, that still has its hurdles, as their hardest games are the first two. Then it tapers considerably before the quarter-final stage in October. This could see the Wallabies selectors fielding their best line-up for their first two games, and then use the back-up players for the final weeks of the pool stage.
However this approach has its pitfalls, because you don't want to be resting too many key performers for too long before the quarter-finals, as most prefer to be playing week-in week-out.
After starting their World Cup campaign against Italy in Auckland on Sunday, they have six days before confronting their other major pool opponent, Ireland, at Eden Park on September 17.
Then the standard of opposition drops when the Wallabies will play the United States in Wellington on September 23, followed by Russia in Nelson on October 1.
But Deans is not placing any sides in ''hard'' and ''easy'' baskets. They are, instead, all the same.
''That's the nature of tournament play. We're approaching this Sunday as our last game essentially. The tournament all revolves around the next game,'' Deans said.
''We're not looking at the game in any clusters. We have to look at them in isolation. We've got to hit the ground running, because we're going in at the deep end. When you look at our pool, our first two opponents are ones we've had challenges with. It all starts on Sunday, and we have to get past that.''
Deans is aware that the Wallabies will be one of the main World Cup attractions, and with that comes distractions. There is also the Deans factor, with the New Zealand media bound to focus on him due to his Kiwi links and rivalry with All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
There is a danger that this issue could also put undue pressure on the Wallabies team.
But Deans is adamant his players are prepared for anything.
Asked if these distractions could affect the Wallabies, Deans said: ''It shouldn't be. It's just about taking time to consider some of the potential challenges we might encounter, and considering the solutions about how we will manage those, and making sure they will not get in our way.''
The Wallabies finished their Sydney preparation with a short, sharp training session on Monday, which was a marked improvement on their Friday session, which followed the John Eales Medal presentation night.
''They're ready to get on with it. Their minds are already over there, I suspect,'' Deans said.
''The training on Friday was a good indicator. They were pretty distracted during that session, and that may have had a lot to do with plenty of things which were going on at that time. But that's going to be part of the World Cup, and we have to be able to manage that.''