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Deans ready for duel with Gatland

Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 29 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Watch live on BBC One Wales & online, listen to live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports and live text commentary online

Australia coach Robbie Deans
Robbie Deans won two Tri Nations titles as All Blacks assistant coach

Robbie Deans believes both Wales and Australia are at similar stages of development ahead of their Millennium Stadium showdown on Saturday.

Australia's Kiwi head coach and his compatriot Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, have both been tipped as potential coaches of the All Blacks.

"Wales' situation is not dissimilar to ours." Deans told BBC Wales' Scrum V.

"Like Wales, we're trying to build a team that can compete and beat the very top teams."

Australia were the last major southern hemisphere scalp that Wales claimed in November 2005.

And before this autumn's Tests, the Wallabies were seen as the most likely chance for the Grand Slam winners to secure another success over one of the Tri-Nations trio.

Having lost 20-15 to world champions South Africa and 29-9 to the All Blacks on Saturday, next Saturday's Millennium Stadium contest is the hosts' final opportunity.

"We all have a sense of making progress but everyone wants to feel that confirmation," noted Deans, who guided Australia to victory in his first meeting with New Zealand but lost the next three against his native country.

Wales coaching staff of Rob Howley, Shaun Edwards and Warren Gatland
Wales are starting to establish themselves as a top team. They're not lacking much and they've a very good coaching staff and genuinely world-class players

Australia coach Robbie Deans

Gatland, who inspired Wasps to three straight English Premiership titles and Heineken Cup glory in 2004, and Deans, who coached the Crusaders to five Super rugby titles, are among the favourites to succeed current New Zealand coach Graham Henry.

Deans, assistant to All Blacks coach John Mitchell between 2001 and 2003, applied for the top job when Henry was asked to reapply for it after their World Cup quarter-final exit in 2007.

"I wasn't successful but I gave it my best shot," said Deans.

"I wanted to know whether they wanted me or not. I got the answer but got lucky as the Wallabies position was still available."

Gatland, another potential All Blacks coach-in-waiting, was mentioned as a possible successor to Henry but the former Ireland coach opted to take the Wales post - also a possibility for Deans - following their own World Cup embarrassment.

"I never seriously looked at coaching Wales," said Deans.

"But when I applied for All Blacks I was definitely ready for a new challenge and I was ready for international rugby again, and the Wallabies offered me that avenue.

Moffets Ghost

"Warren, though, made his decision to coach Wales in advance of any All Blacks appointment.

"So it was probably tougher for him because in accepting the Wales appointment he was denying himself the opportunity to apply for the All Blacks role.

"But those are the tough decisions you make in life. Both Warren and I are counting ourselves lucky to have the opportunities we've been given."

Deans has huge respect for what Gatland has already achieved as he approaches the end of his first year in charge of Wales.

"Wales are starting to establish themselves as a top team," he added.

"They're not lacking much and they have a very good coaching staff and genuinely world-class players.

"Every side in world rugby is well conditioned, they're just trying to get a collective understanding to the game."

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see also
Wales 9-29 New Zealand
22 Nov 08 |  Welsh
Gatland praise despite defeat
22 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Wallaby wonders: Aussie rugby
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Wales v Australia: Full record
27 Sep 06 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
28 Oct 08 |  Wales
Coming up next on Scrum V...
27 Oct 08 |  Welsh

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