JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Bruised, bloodied and pilloried - now Wallabies' blood is up

Push and shove ... Wallabies forwards Nathan Sharpe and Stephen Moore train at a London school for the Test against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Push and shove ... Wallabies forwards Nathan Sharpe and Stephen Moore train at a London school for the Test against England at Twickenham on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

LONDON: Haven't we been here before? With their backs to the wall, apparently just the way they like it, the Wallabies are preparing for a defining moment in their tumultuous recent history, fuelled by the their bruised and bloodied pride.

South Africa in the World Cup, Argentina and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship, England on Saturday. The Wallabies have the defiant comeback routine down pat. Same-same, but different. This week, more than ever before, the criticism was personal.

''Deans has destroyed Australian rugby and I want him to go,'' declared former Wallaby David Campese. A poll on Fairfax's Rugby Heaven site received more than 12,000 votes, with 75 per cent of voters agreeing with him.

The former Crusaders coach, who has taken Australia to a Tri Nations championship, a World Cup semi-final and second in the world, was characteristically unflappable in London this week.

He is feeling the strain, but always has. In his own words there is pressure ''every week''.

''That's what living in this arena is,'' he said. ''It's not about me. It's about the team and helping them do what they do. That's where we're putting all our time and energy.''

The players, for their part, did not need their failures pointed out.

''I don't really read the papers but after a performance like [last] Saturday's you kind of feel it anyway,'' No.8 Wycliff Palu said.

''I think the most disappointing thing about last week was we didn't fire a shot. That's not the Wallabies side of two weeks ago against the All Blacks, and going into this weekend we've got to [stick to] our guns and if things don't go well we've got to keep playing instead of going into our shell.''

Deans has indicated he is letting the players off the leash. Although buffeted by the loss of centre Pat McCabe, the Wallabies backs are by no means short of firepower.

Digby Ioane, a genuine threat, is back from injury, Ben Tapuai and Adam Ashley-Cooper are back at their favourite positions and Kurtley Beale just needs to feel the supporting love.

''We've obviously got to be a lot more effective in our own attack, the use of running ball,'' Deans said. ''We've got to ask more; we can't be one-dimensional.''

If the forwards can match the English scrum, neutralise their kicking game and shut down attacking threats such as Chris Ashton, Charlie Sharples and Manu Tuilagi, Deans has told them to offload instead of taking the ball to ground. But that's a big if on the evidence produced against France last week.

''[Last week] we had a good prep and we probably didn't turn up on the night, and we didn't do anything on our terms,'' Palu said. ''We were forced to play a way we didn't want to play and weren't comfortable with.''

Senior squad member Stephen Moore, who will start off the bench as fresh legs for hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, said he understood the criticism and knew it was up to the Wallabies to redeem themselves on Saturday, and over the longer term.

''There's no doubt there'll be a lot of eyes on the guys this weekend and I personally do feel that,'' Moore said. ''I'm very proud to play for Australia and I know what it means and I want to make sure our performance on the weekend reflects what it is to be Australian and that our people back home are proud of watching that performance.''

After a week of being written off in the English press, if not by England, the team, an upset Wallabies win at Twickenham would prove critics wrong and probably save the coach - again. They won't be doing it for the fans, the media, or even the beloved gold jersey. They will be doing it for each other, including Deans.

''[He] is considered our mate, he's considered part of our team and we had a real focus on looking after each other,'' Ashley-Cooper said.

''Regardless of who you are we are a Wallabies team, we are the Wallabies, we're representing our country and we're representing each other. I don't think anyone in the team likes to play the game for themselves - they play it for each other and for the respect of each other.''

Related Coverage

White to rein in Brumbies

ACT Brumbies coach Jake White is willing to put the Wallabies before Super Rugby ambitions if the ARU is prepared to make the ''tough calls'' required to lift Australia to the top of the world rankings.

Deans cops backlash of Jekyll and Hyde season

THE tendency of the Wallabies to lose Tests after some convincing performances is driving fans mad. A poll this week on Rugby Heaven showed that 75 per cent of 12,000 voters supported David Campese's trenchant call for the sacking of coach Robbie Deans. A thrashing by France fired up the Campese attack and the fans' support. The Test before this debacle, the Wallabies drew with an All Blacks side that had won 16 straight.

Pumped Poms ready for brutal match

LONDON: England have been ramping up the intensity on and off the field as they prepare for the Test against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

Knees haven't been great but Dennis has legs in the green and gold

LONDON: No amount of writing off before the Test against England could rob Dave Dennis of the satisfaction he will feel upon the presentation of his 13th Wallabies jersey. Recently described by his partner, the netballer Mo'onia Gerrard, as the most unlikely of Test players owing to ''two dicky knees'', Dennis has enjoyed a breakthrough year with the Wallabies after years of knocking on the door.

Higginbotham recalled by Wallabies

Rebels back-rower Scott Higginbotham has been recalled to the Australian squad to bolster the Wallabies stock of loose forwards.

Related Coverage

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
Featured advertisers