26 Jul 2008

Deans gears up to face All Blacks

6:32 am on 26 July 2008

Australia coach Robbie Deans has admitted to having mixed feelings about Saturday's Tri-Nations test against New Zealand but made it clear there are no doubts about where his loyalties now lie.

New Zealander Deans, who agreed to become Australia's first foreign coach after missing out on the All Blacks job to Graham Henry last year, conceded the clash at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney would be an emotional occasion.

However, he said he had no regrets about plotting New Zealand's downfall.

"I'll feel emotion, there's no doubt, but I'd suggest everyone who's here will do that. Yes I'm excited about this match - it's a big game, but it's the same as any other match."

Deans has been in the spotlight all week but was at pains to distance himself from suggestions the test would be a grudge match between himself and Henry.

"This is not about me, it never has been," he said. "It's about the players. "They get genuinely excited when they anticipate a genuine challenge and there's no doubt that that's what they're going into."

The All Blacks will go into the match as slight favourites after winning six of their last seven tests against the Wallabies and holding the Bledisloe Cup for the past five seasons.

However, the Australians are also in great form, winning all four matches under Deans this season.

"They're excited but I don't thing they're daunted," Deans said. "They're up against one of the best, if not the best, rugby sides in the world. They're getting a great opportunity on the weekend to stake a claim to that sort of respect."

All Blacks coach Graham Henry says he understands the pressure Deans is under ahead of the Tri-Nations test.

Henry coached both Wales and the British and Irish Lions and although he never coached against New Zealand he says he understands the pressure Deans is under. He says it will be good to talk to Deans after the game.

Despite New Zealand's 30-28 loss to South Africa in Dunedin two weeks ago Graham Henry insists Deans is under far more pressure than him.