Wallabies fired up for RWC
Sydney - Buoyant Australia coach Robbie Deans said on Monday that he was confident his young team will go far at the Rugby World Cup, declaring the Wallabies ready and firmly up for the challenge.
Deans and his Australian team, who are one of the pre-tournament favourites, were given an official farewell in Sydney ahead of their departure for New Zealand on Tuesday morning.
Despite winning their first Tri-Nations in a decade last month, beating the All Blacks 25-20 in the tournament decider in Brisbane, Deans said that once the World Cup started all the good work counted for little.
"It's a new tournament and a new challenge. We will have to work twice as hard as we did against the Springboks and All Blacks earlier this year because they are going to be hungrier," he said.
"We'll be doing what we can and focusing on what we can control to ensure we’re there at the pointy end of the competition.
"We understand it will be a challenge but we are up for that, in fact we are ready for it."
Deans added that the team was pumped up ahead of their opening game against Pool C challengers Italy on Sunday. Ireland, Russia and the United States are also in their group.
"I think their minds are in New Zealand already, so that's good," he said.
Wallabies skipper James Horwill stressed that his side had the ability to win the tournament, but warned they could not look beyond their first game.
"I think the group we've got definitely has the ability to get the result we want, but we can't think too far ahead. We're worried about Italy this weekend," Horwill said.
"That's all we've spoken about since we have been in camp."
Horwill, one of the youngest captains at the tournament at age 26, admitted the team was youthful with Will Genia, Quade Cooper and David Pocock all 23, full-back Kurtley Beale 22 and James O'Connor just 21.
But he said it was irrelevant, given they were among the world's best players.
"I think age is just a number. It doesn't mean anything," he told reporters.
"The guys we've got are all certainly good enough to be there and some of them are the best players in their position in the world at the moment."
Just eight players in the squad were at the 2007 tournament in France, where Australia bowed out in the quarter-finals.
The Wallabies have won the World Cup twice, in 1991 and 1999, and enter the contest ranked second only to the hosts.