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Deans confident Wallabies will benefit from European tour

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Coach Robbie Deans said Friday he is confident the Wallabies will benefit hugely from last year’s successful tour of Europe, having given more players experience of top-notch rugby.


The six-match trip in November yielded four wins — against England, Italy, France and the Barbarians — and two defeats after New Zealand won in Hong Kong and Wales triumphed in Cardiff.


“I’m really hopeful that we will see the benefit of the tour shortly in Super 14 rugby, and in fact I’m very confident that we will,” Deans said.


Deans said drawing from a large pool of players to keep up with the demands of a busy international schedule would pay dividends.


“We took 34 (players on tour), we used them all and while that seems like a large number, the reality is we need to build that many that we have faith in and who believe in themselves and know that they can put in at that level,” he said.


“We’ve learned over time experience is valuable, but I believe experience where there is still enthusiasm is more valuable.”


The Wallabies kick off their second season under New Zealander Deans against the Barbarians on June 6 in Sydney, before two Tests against Italy and a one-off Test against France.


“The Barbarians game will be a point of interest, they’re going to have a pretty strong line-up if they’re successful in appealing to the blokes who are available,” Deans said.


“Obviously, the French will be keen to redress the recent history here and they’re sending their top-liners — guaranteed.” The Australians smashed an under-strength French touring team 34-13 and 40-10 last year.


The 2009 domestic season kicks off with the Super 14 southern hemisphere provincial series on February 13, involving teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


The Tri-Nations series starts for Australia on July 18 with a Test against the All Blacks in Auckland, followed three weeks later by an international against the Springboks in Cape Town.


The Wallabies will then have a bloc of three home matches against New Zealand in Sydney, followed by South Africa in Perth and another Test with the Springboks in Brisbane on September 5.


“Both away games will be challenging, but what a better way to start,” Deans said.


“If we can prepare well and start well, then it gets us off to a flyer.”


The Wallabies went within an unconverted try of a first Tri-Nations title in seven years against New Zealand last year and registered wins over their biggest rivals — New Zealand, South Africa, England and France –in Deans’ debut season.


Sapa-AFP – Rugbyweek.com

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