Deans lauds Waratahs turnaround



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Crusaders coach Robbie Deans has praised the Waratahs for turning themselves from cellar-dwellers last season into title contenders this year.

The Waratahs are currently placed second after beating the Sharks at the weekend. This time last year it was a very different story as they had gone from Semi finalists in 2006 to finishing 13th in 2007.

“They have put themselves in the position to be able to control their own destiny,” Deans told Rugbyheaven.

“They should be pretty excited about that. That’s great, from their perspective.”

Deans saw their rise coming and predicted the turnaround in the Waratahs’ fortunes before the start of the season. At a breakfast on February 4 to launch the Rotomahana Challenge trial between NSW and Crusaders.

In front of an an audience of 400: “I just sense from the chemistry around the room, that you are building some momentum and are pretty keen to do something significant this year. Let’s hope that this is the first of three encounters.”

Deans has been where the Tahs are today as they are having a similar season to the Crusaders 2001 season where they finished 10th in the Super 12, with four wins and seven losses.

The following year, they made up for their worst season since 1996 by winning the title. Furthermore, they finished the season undefeated and with a 31-13 victory over the Brumbies in Christchurch.

Deans, who took over the Crusaders coaching job in 2000 and has guided them to four of their six Super titles, sees the parallels between his side’s turnaround in 2002 and the one the Waratahs are experiencing now.

He would not venture an opinion as to what has led to the Waratahs’ improvement, but he was willing to offer his view on what is required for such resurrections to succeed.

“There are so many things involved. For any team to thrive, and it doesn’t pertain to any one [thing] in particular, you just have to maximise your own circumstance,” Deans said.

“To that end, you have to deal with your current realities and current challenges. And [the Waratahs] are obviously one side that are doing that.

“It is tedious. It is tough. It is week to week. You just have to keep going.

“You draw from where you have to. And with the passing of time, sometimes tough experiences and what may be perceived as bad experiences, can actually serve you if you use them.”

Deans is in an unusual situation as he takes over as Wallaby coach after the Super 14 and he has an agreeement with the New Zealand Rugby Union agreement not to let Wallabies affairs interfere with his Crusaders commitments and when asked if he saw emerging talents like Luke Burgess, Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale and Lachie Turner as rookies or fully-fledged Super 14 campaigners, he said simply: “I see them as opponents right now.”

Pressed as to whether he rated them as formidable opponents, Deans laughed before replying: “Without a doubt.”

Deans knows that the Waratahs are hitting form at the right time of their season and that there is a strong possibility that the Crusaders and Waratahs may yet meet again in the finals.

“That is right,” he said. “It is going to go right down to the wire. That is one thing that is really evident.

“When you look at the history of this competition year to year, it has become more congested with every year.”

Asked if he felt more pressure than in the past as tournament leaders, Deans said: “It is just more of the same. We are not in first place.

“We are one of 14 teams still playing. Those outcomes will be resolved in time.”




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