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Deans finally decides to throw caution to the wind

New approach … Deans says the Kiwis are beatable.

New approach … Deans says the Kiwis are beatable. Photo: John Selkirk

FOR MANY Australian rugby fans, it may all sound like a case of too little, too late. But Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has promised a riskier and more innovative approach to derail the All Blacks in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Deans concedes there are a few bothersome ''realities'' that may interfere with that plan, such as two more unwanted injuries for a side that continues to have players drop like flies.

Hooker Saia Fainga'a has a broken bone in his hand and will be replaced by fellow Reds rake James Hanson, while scans will reveal whether winger Dom Shipperley requires surgery for an ongoing wrist complaint.

Digby Ioane has already been withdrawn this week with a knee problem that may prevent him travelling with the side on the European tour in a few weeks.

But the talk from Camp Wallaby has taken a decidedly upbeat tone since the return from Argentina, where a triumph over the Pumas has forged a new belief among a bits-and-pieces squad that considers itself worthy of standing up to a Kiwi freight train that has mercilessly rolled to 16 consecutive wins.

Even Deans, often conservative and regularly confusing, has been infused with a fresh belief. With changes at the top of the ARU, he understands how much is riding on the result of this game and the way the Wallabies approach the contest at Suncorp Stadium.

As such, he has urged them to exhaust all their ammunition and make a stand against an All Blacks side that has swept all before it in the 14 months since its last failure, a 25-20 defeat at the hands of the Wallabies in Brisbane last August.

He said the Wallabies couldn't sit back and wait for the opportunity to counter and needed to play the game on their terms, which didn't happen in the first two meetings between the sides this season, both won by the New Zealanders.

''It wasn't for want of trying but they were on top of every initiative. At some point, to do well against them, you've got to take the initiative. You can't wait for it to land in your lap,'' Deans said. ''You've got to take the game to them and find a way to wrestle initiative and create some momentum … there's no shortcuts to beating them.''

The Wallabies have been roundly criticised for their lack of spark under Deans, not the least by Quade Cooper, who lashed out at his former coach and remains estranged from the ARU as his future is decided.

Deans said the Wallabies would throw caution to the wind this time.

''There's an element of structure you need to bring to your game to get into the parts of the ground you want to be in. The game is risk and reward. Decisions are made in every moment. [But] the answer's yes,'' Deans said.

''They [All Blacks] are masters of forcing you to play the game where they want you to play and they feed off the result. A poor exit, or you become over-ambitious - they just love that stuff.''

While the All Blacks have looked invincible at times during the Rugby Championship, the Wallabies aren't going into this game simply hoping to get on the board, which they failed to manage in the 22-0 loss in Auckland in August.

Scott Higginbotham, who returns to the starting side in place of Kane Douglas, said the win over the All Blacks in Brisbane last year showed the New Zealanders were mortal and they believed a famous victory could be won on Saturday.

''We beat them last year. It's obviously been tough this year with those two games. They're a very good side. They've obviously proven that over this Rugby Championship. But every side's beatable,'' Higginbotham said.

''You see that in Super Rugby - the Rebels beat the Crusaders. Nobody saw that coming. There's players missing but the players who have taken the starting roles of the other blokes, they're not second-string players at all, by no means.''

No.8 Wycliff Palu has been rushed back to the side after being sidelined for three months with a shoulder injury. His physical presence from the back of the scrum means Deans had no hesitation in returning him there in place of Radike Samo (bicep).

''It was anything but a break for Cliffy. He's been training the house down,'' Deans said.

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