Friday, October 30, 2009

Australia: autumn internationals form guide

The two-time World Cup winning Wallabies are on their way to British and Irish shores for a tilt at a Grand Slam over the home nations in the November Tests. Are they up to the task?


Robbie Deans, the former Canterbury Crusaders coach, is nearing the end of his second year at the helm, and badly needs a clean sweep of the home nations to add some gloss to an otherwise poor record. A popular figure in Australia if only for his bizarre ramblings at press conferences, where earlier this year he coined the phrase "deposit in belief".

Key men:

The Wallaby golden boy is undoubtedly fly-half Matt Giteau. A calming influence on his backs and a metronome with the boot. Deans' problem is that should Giteau ever get injured his side may crumble without him. Up front Rocky Elsom is the Wallabies' own personal wrecking ball and his absence from Leinster's ranks goes some way to explaining their slow start to the season.

Target area:

Defence. For a nation with rugby league (and its rigid defensive systems) in its blood, the Wallabies leaked around 20 points a game in the Tri-Nations. If the home nations can stick to their basics the defensive gaps will present themselves.


Plumb last in the Tri-Nations with only one win from six to their name, this is hardly a golden era for Australian rugby. They are like a punch-drunk boxer on the verge of a knockout blow. All three of Ireland, Wales, and even injury-ravaged England, will be targeting an Aussie scalp.

Likely XV:

Forwards: 1 Robinson, 2 Moore, 3 Alexander, 4 Horwill, 5 Mumm, 6 Elsom, 7 Smith, 8 Palu

Backs: 9 Genia, 10 Giteau, 11 Mitchell, 12 Barnes, 13 Ashley-Cooper, 14 Turner, 15 O'Connor


Nov 7 Australia V England, Twickenham, Sky Sports 2

Nov 15 Australia V Ireland, Croke Park, BBC2

Nov 21 Australia V Scotland, Murrayfield, BBC2

Nov 28 Australia V Wales, Millenium Stadium, BBC2

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A lot will depend on how competitive the stretched squads of England and Wales are in opposition but a win at Croke Park looks beyond Deans' men. 3/5 would represent a solid achievement, while a Grand Slam seems highly unlikely.

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