Vodacom Super 14

Deans backs Reds for S14 title

2010-04-28 08:32
Robbie Deans (File)
Sydney - The Reds have the belief, playing style and lust for victory required to be Australia's next Super rugby victors, according to Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

Deans, who through his long and successful career with the Crusaders knows the right ingredients to win Super 14 titles, said on Tuesday Australia could have as many as three teams in the finals next month - the Reds, Waratahs and Brumbies. But he is particularly enthused with how the Reds have approached the tournament to be easily Australia's most invigorating province.

''They're a side who clearly have the capability to win it,'' he said on Tuesday. ''The reason for that is they have been striving to play a brand that is capable of winning the competition, as opposed to just simply qualifying [for the finals]. You can't just pluck these things out of thin air. It comes through preparation.

''The Reds are probably the first side to get outside their comfort zone, and that's off the back of suffering for a long time. They have a young group, not dissimilar to the Wallabies in many ways that have gone through generational change, and they now aren't happy with coming close.

''They weren't that far away last year, but inexperience contributed to their own demise on a lot of occasions. That extra year of experience is showing. Ewen [McKenzie] has done a great job in galvanising them as well. It is clear they're not limiting themselves to qualifying. They're aspiring to win every game by trying to take their opponents outside their comfort zone.''

Deans offered caution about the idea that Quade Cooper is a certain Test five-eighth selection, with his defence clearly still under question. ''It's always good to see players thrive and he has thrived this season,'' he said. ''The Reds have modified the way they have approached the game through a little bit of lateral thinking. They've moved Quade around on the defensive line, so that's still an issue for them. But the things he enjoys doing, he is doing extremely well.''

Deans attended Waratahs training at Moore Park yesterday and said they were also ''perfectly capable of coming through as well''.

''They've had a good, happy trait of winning the close ones, which will serve them well, should they get to the play-offs. And come the hour they've also got the wherewithal within the group to add to that.''

Concerning the Wallabies, Deans said many Test spots were still wide open - including second row, No.8, outside-centre and both wings. He is at least pleased player depth has improved markedly this season.

''We need a group, and it needs to be more than 15, ideally 30, but in reality probably 40 players, who are of international standard,'' he said.

Asked how many such players the Wallabies had, he replied: ''I haven't done the numbers, but clearly we're developing depth and that's evident in the performance of the franchises, and the fact we have two, possibly three franchises who clearly have the ability to make the play-offs. And we need someone to go through that door because that's the only way to build belief.

''When you look at the draw, we could even have two home play-offs in Australia and that's great.''

What type of tactics the Wallabies, who are bound to try different combinations during the June domestic internationals, adopt will be determined by whether the international referees are as eager as the Super 14 officiators in being more forgiving towards the attacking team.

Read more on:    super 14  |  robbie deans  |  quade cooper  |  reds

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