Deans laughs off Eden Park hoodoo
AUCKLAND, 10 Oct. - While nerves are already building for some Australian fans over meeting New Zealand at Eden Park in Sunday's World Cup semi-final, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is excited by the challenge.
"It's fantastic,” Deans said on Monday with a smile. “We know each other well as teams. There's a huge amount of history, there's no more history than between the Wallabies and the All Blacks.
“There's a lot of history at World Cup time as well, so it's going to be great."
Australia have not beaten New Zealand at Eden Park since 1986, but despite the 25-year losing streak at the ground, the Wallabies camp refuse to buy into notions of the stadium being a bogey ground for the team.
"It's the first occasion we've played them in a semi-final of the World Cup at Eden Park so there's no history," Deans said.
"We don't really look at it like a hoodoo,” added assistant coach David Nucifora. “It's a World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks at Eden Park so it's a one-off fixture."
"If we didn't believe it we wouldn't be going out there so we've got the utmost confidence that if we prepare really well leading into Sunday, we've got a lot of belief in what we're capable of."
The All Blacks beat Australia 30-14 the last time the two sides met at Eden Park, during the Tri Nations in August this year, however Deans believes the ghosts of performances past are the key to spurring his team on.
The Wallabies coach even suggested that if it was not for Australia’s defeat by Ireland in the pool stages, his men may have missed the opportunity to meet New Zealand in the semi-finals.
"We obviously try to take the meaning out of every learning experience and I think we have,” Deans said. “I think that was evident yesterday (against South Africa).
“If we'd got through the Irish game with relative ease we may have suffered yesterday, because we wouldn't have been as well prepared. They were as mentally ready as they could be because of the loss to Ireland."
While Deans might be one of the few to find positives in the losses of his team, the New Zealand-born Australia coach also takes confidence out of the Wallabies’ most recent encounter with the All Blacks, in the Tri Nations decider.
In their final Test match ahead of RWC 2011, Australia beat New Zealand 25-20 on 27 August in Brisbane to claim the Tri Nations trophy.
Deans believes it is possible for his team to do the same at Eden Park come Sunday.
"It would be great to repeat it,” he said. “But we'll have to combine what we brought to the first half in Brisbane with what we brought to the encounter yesterday (against South Africa).
“The good thing is they're both performances that this group has produced so it's not out of the realms of possibility that we can get it to that level again, and that's what we'll be looking to do."
- South Africa
- New Zealand