28 Jul 2010

Deans and Henry not worried about slippery pitch

6:26 pm on 28 July 2010

The Australian rugby coach Robbie Deans has dismissed fears of a dangerous Etihad Stadium surface and stressed the Wallabies would happily play on asphalt to avoid their worst trans-Tasman streak in 63 years.

Desperate to end a painful seven-match drought against the All Blacks, Deans parried away questions about the venue's much-publicised surface - damned this week by the AFL as the slipperiest it has ever seen.

While Etihad Stadium was described as a skating rink by the AFL's players union before their rugby counterparts expressed their own worries, Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup encounter will not be moved.

The All Blacks coach Graham Henry also has no thoughts of a venue switch and felt his players would have less issue with the slippery Etihad grass than AFL combatants who change direction more quickly and more often.

However Henry did express disappointment his team can't train at Etihad on Friday due to the St Kilda-Essendon AFL match that night and warned the biggest problem would be at scrum-time when both front-rows needed to pack as tight as possible.