Vodacom Super 14

Ditch rivalries: Deans

2009-02-05 13:12
Wallaby coach Robbie Deans (Rugby Heaven)
Sydney - Wallaby coach Robbie Deans has urged Australia's Super 14 clubs to ditch their unhealthy obsession with beating each other and place more importance on knocking over teams from outside our shores.
The New Zealand master coach said Australia's collective Super 14 fortunes would rise if the Reds, Waratahs, Force and Brumbies placed less significance on intra-continental stoushes and more on bursting the bubbles of the African and Kiwi powerhouses.
Local derbies, like the traditional inter-state battle between Queensland and New South Wales, remain the biggest drawcards for Australian fans, while touring South African teams have historically generated little buzz, usually reflected in underwhelming crowd figures.
The Reds v Waratahs game remains the biggest event of the year in Queensland rugby circles, even if recent clashes have meant little or nothing for the Reds in terms of featuring in the Super 14 finals.
With the opening round just a fortnight away, Deans wants Australian sides to "get up and get excited" about slashing the tyres of heavyweight franchises like the Hurricanes, Crusaders and Bulls, rather than just the classic domestic disputes.
"What I would really like to see would be to see less internal competition and more external competition," Deans said.
 "I think historically the teams have got up and got excited about playing each other within the confines of Australia. I'd like to see them get up and get excited about beating teams about outside of Australia."
But Deans, speaking in Brisbane, remains upbeat about the road ahead for Australia's Super 14 entrants, even the battling Reds - a side Deans insists can make the finals for the first time since 2001.
"Absolutely," was his frank response to a query on whether Phil Mooney's Reds could break their frustrating post-season drought.
"The Reds will get outcomes this year. There's no doubt about that. The key for them is not getting to the far end of the year and being a little bit frustrated that if they'd be a little bit more patient and composed, they might have achieved more.
"They'll get to a point where they won't be happy to be close. From my perspective, I hope they are at that point now because they are perfectly capable of getting home in every instance. If they aspire to that, who knows?"
Deans, who coached the Crusaders to five Super rugby titles before being famously snubbed for the All Blacks top job, has likened the Reds to the Canterbury team of 1997, one that was bursting with youth and enthusiasm but short on execution and application.
That side went on to build a rugby dynasty, with a hat-trick of Super 12 titles from 1998-2000.
"They are going to get there over time. It's just a matter of when they turn that motor over. The Crusaders went from last in 1996 to sixth in 1979 and won three in a row. Things happen quickly," Deans said.
Leading Queensland's revival will be marquee signing Daniel Braid, a rampaging Kiwi flank who has been forced to play out his career in the shadow of All Black great Richie McCaw.
Braid, 27, has already added an experienced and professional voice to Reds training and was a standout in 40 minutes of action against his former club during last week's trial in Auckland.
"He's been great value. Loads of experience. And he's part of a group that is coming on, so not only in terms of the way he plays the game but in the way he influences preparation," said Deans, clearly a fan of Braid's approach.
"He's played an enormous amount of top rugby. Not as much international rugby as he would have liked but he's capable of that. You could suggest if he was anyone else he would have played more.
"But he's still hungry and I think the vigour that you get out of his enthusiasm and a fresh challenge, combined with a group that's clearly coming on and really excited, it's going to be powerful.
"He'll help them to channel their energy consistently. You don't always have to throw the miracle ball or go for the miracle play. That comes with belief, which comes over time. Get a result, settle back, try to play the percentages a little bit better."
The Reds have one final chance to show their wares when they trot out a near full-strength side for tonight's clash against the Western Force at Ballymore.
Queensland will depart for South Africa on Monday to open their Super 14 account against the Bulls in Pretoria on February 14.


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