‘There will be extra motivation’

Matt Giteau says the late arrival of coach Robbie Deans has been handled well by the entire squad.

Deans is in New Zealand attending his father’s funeral and will only arrive in South Africa late on Wednesday evening. Deans will only be involved in Thursday’s training, as well as the low-key captain’s run on Friday.

However, Giteau said Deans had laid his blue-print of confronting the Boks’ physicality in the past two weeks after their loss to the All Blacks in Auckland.

‘Robbie’s circumstances will give us extra motivation to play for him,’ Giteau told keo.co.za. ‘Not having him here has meant the two assistant coaches [Jim Williams and Richard Graham] have stepped up. When Robbie does arrive, that will have even further impact as he adds impetus.’

Nathan Sharpe concurred, and said the players have also had to shoulder extra responsibility.

‘As Matt said, the assistant coaches have stamped their authority and kept things consistent to Robbie’s plans,’ said Sharpe. ‘Robbie has also been in communication with them, so he’s happy with the way it’s going.

‘The whole team has also stood up. We’ve had input from squad numbers 1-24, not just the senior players.’

Deans has had a little over a year at the helm, and Giteau said the Wallabies were edging closer to grasping Deans’s philosophies.

‘We’ve always put patches of good rugby together, but have been lacking over the full 80 minutes.’

Sharpe reiterated how the side was still hurting after throwing away a perfect opportunity to down the Blacks at Eden Park after their second half collapse. Their discipline let them down there, and the lock said the time off has only served to ensure the wrongs are put right.

‘We gave away penalties at the scrums, but Saturday is also about remaining composed at the breakdowns and trusting our systems. We’ve spoken about it for three weeks – that is a long time to stew over a performance you are unhappy with.’

By Grant Ball, in Cape Town