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©INPHO/Billy Stickland Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
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Wallabies coach Robbie Deans gets his Lions digs in early
The Kiwi expects nothing new from Warren Gatland’s men, all the way down to putting pressure on referees.

WALLABIES COACH ROBBIE DEANS got a few uncontested licks in against his Lions counterpart, Warren Gatland.

The New Zealander, who is hoping to stretch the Lions’ winless series streak another four years, has had a go at Gatland’s predictable tactics, lining up Kiwi winger Sean Maitland before his international debut and suggested that Brian O’Driscoll may not be a Test starter.

In an interview given to the Australian Rugby Union, following Gatland’s squad announcement, Deans got matters off to an amicable start when he agreed that Sam Warburton is the right man to captain the tourists. The former Canterbury Crusaders coach added that he would not be surprised if Jonny Wilkinson – reluctant to travel due to his club commitments with Toulon – shows up by the end of the Lions tour. Asked about O’Driscoll’s potential impact on tour, the coach said:

He’s an absolute legend of Lions rugby. Whether he is part of the Test side or not, it doesn’t matter. He’s going to bring a lot of direction to the side. He’s a bloke that will help with the chemistry of the group. Help them come together.”

Deans gave Glasgow Warriors and Scotland winger Sean Maitland [a surprise squad inclusion] his senior club debut with Crusaders, back in 2008. “We dragged him into the Crusaders group,” said Deans, “and he was a very successful part of it.

“I was very surprised when I saw that they let him go but very pleased for him… I understand that he was up for the Lions before he had even played his first Test match; a remarkable story. I know what he is capable of. He’s a point of difference player.”

Deans, who recently drafted retired lock Nathan Sharpe onto his coaching staff, believes the pulsating Wales v England Six Nations finale will be the “blueprint” for the Lions in Australia. “They’re going to be very direct, play a territory based game,” he said. “The’re going to want to bring the ref into play and put him under pressure.”

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There was still time for a joking dig at the 13-man lineout, and 15-man maul, that Wales unveiled to score against the All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium late last year. Deans remarked:

I don’t think you’ll see anything too left-field other than a full team maul from a 5-metre lineout but that’s not too left-field any more. I think it is pretty evident what’s coming. These blokes aren’t going to change overnight.”

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