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No retreat: Wallabies up for Bledisloe challenge

Relaxed ... Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

Relaxed ... Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo: Simon Alekna

FAR from acknowledging that his squad could be lambs to a slaughter, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says his squad is not daunted by the prospect of facing an All Blacks side chasing a record-equalling 17th consecutive victory on Saturday night in Brisbane. On the contrary, he says that challenge is the very reason they play the game.

''It's an exciting prospect,'' Deans said yesterday. ''They're not daunted. They understand they're playing against the world champions and the top-ranked side in the world. But that's exciting for these blokes.

''This is what these guys play the game for. They don't play it for the ease, they play it for the challenge.''

The All Blacks have not lost since the Wallabies beat them at Suncorp Stadium before the World Cup last year. On the same ground, the Wallabies will be trying to bring to an end a remarkable streak by a team that has only improved since winning the World Cup.

While acknowledging the obvious threat his squad faces, Deans was adamant his players needed to concentrate on themselves. ''Obviously we respect them but we also respect what we do,'' Deans said.

Even though the All Blacks have already won the Bledisloe Cup this year after beating the Wallabies in the first two encounters, a win would ease the pressure on Deans before the spring tour. That said, Deans maintained he was ''not concerned'' by the speculation surrounding his future.

''I don't expect that to abate,'' he said. ''It's just part of the territory.''

Deans has named a 30-man squad before the third Bledisloe Cup match, perhaps with an eye on the spring tour. Deans also maintained that five-eighth Quade Cooper was not out of the reckoning for that tour, despite his recent run-ins with officialdom.

''Not at all,'' said Deans when asked if he was opposed to Cooper being brought back into the Wallabies squad. Deans has exchanged text messages with Cooper since he publicly expressed his concerns.

Of Cooper's recent knee injury, Deans said: ''I understand he's had his operation and he'll return to running shortly.''

Of more pressing concern is his squad, which is likely to be finalised tomorrow for Saturday night's clash.

While winger Digby Ioane (knee) and Radike Samo (bicep) are in doubt to face the All Blacks, the Wallabies' recent injury woes have been somewhat eased by the return of several key players. Adam Ashley-Cooper has been cleared to play after missing the 25-19 victory over Argentina due to concussion, while Wycliff Palu could make his long-awaited return from a shoulder injury.

''He's been waiting for the nerve in his shoulder to fully recover but he's got it back to full strength,'' Deans said. ''He was a big part of that series against the Welsh and he's been pretty frustrated on the sidelines. But he's worked hard.''

Ioane is struggling with a lingering knee problem after the win over Argentina and his potential loss would be a major blow as he's the line-breaking threat the All Blacks would fear most.

The 31-Test flyer - who crossed for the match-winning try against the Pumas - saw out the match in Rosario but pulled up sore after carrying severe bruising into the game from a heavy knock in the 31-8 loss to South Africa the week before.

Ashley-Cooper's availability makes for a welcome selection dilemma as rookie trio Ben Tapuai, Nick Cummins and Mike Harris performed strongly against the Pumas.

Ashley-Cooper would prefer to stay at outside-centre - which would come at the expense of Tapuai - but did play wing and fullback in the opening two Bledisloe losses: 27-19 in Sydney and 22-0 in Auckland.

Dom Shipperley and the returning Drew Mitchell (ankle) would also be in the frame to start if Ioane fails to recover.

with AAP

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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