WHEN the 1984 Wallabies arrived at Heathrow Airport for the start of their Grand Slam tour, coach Alan Jones gave them strict instructions. He told the players to write on their arrival cards, under ”purpose of visit”, ”business … because that’s what we’re here on”.Australia subsequently attended to their business, becoming the first Australian team to win all four Tests against England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Twenty-five years on, the 2009 Wallabies will – after playing a Bledisloe Cup match in Tokyo – head to London aiming to emulate Jones’s history-makers. When they arrive at Heathrow on November 1, coach Robbie Deans should go through the same routine, telling the players to write exactly the same word on their arrival cards. Business.It will be a way of convincing them they can overcome their recent disappointments and divisions, and it will be the first step in ensuring his side does not become a source of embarrassment for their predecessors.There are considerable similarities between the 1984 Wallabies team, coached by Alan Jones, and the 2009 model. But there are also differences. The 1984 team was one happy band, chock full of experience and skill. The 2009 team is not that and reports that several senior players, including Matt Giteau and Stirling Mortlock, are disenchanted are right on the mark.That several established players, such as Al Baxter and Phil Waugh, missed out on the squad is also bound to have ramifications. The omissions have already prompted concerns that the communication lines between the Wallabies management, the Australian Rugby Union and the players are flawed. Players have recently complained that they have been deliberately ”kept in the dark” by Deans and co.Deans can be stand-offish with his players, which sometimes means he gives off mixed messages. Some on the fringe of the squad complain that they wished he was more ”up front” with them. But Deans is not the first Australian coach to be like this. At times, Bob Dwyer used a similar ”keep ’em guessing” routine. It worked for him – he won a World Cup.As well, the quality of the 2009 team is considerably below that of the 1984 Wallabies, which ranks as one of Australia’s greatest sides.But it must be remembered that in 1984, the Wallabies’ leading playmaker, Mark Ella, and coach Jones were not close. Ella, who had lost the Test captaincy, was no Jones fan, but lived through it, becoming the star of the tour, scoring a try in each of the four internationals.The relationship between Deans and Giteau is similarly fragile. As revealed in the Herald last week, Giteau is not happy Berrick Barnes will take over as the Test five-eighth, and he is being shunted to inside-centre. Giteau also believes he should have been in contention for a leadership role. The appointment of Barnes as tour vice-captain added to the pain. Getting Giteau back onside will be one of Deans’s main tasks this week when the Wallabies spend four days at a Sydney training camp. Appeasing Mortlock after stripping him of the Test captaincy will also be on the agenda. Doubt about whether Mortlock would last until the 2011 World Cup was among the reasons for the  change of captaincy. Rocky Elsom is a good choice. He is a man of his word and, like John Eales and Nick Farr-Jones, has an aura. Elsom is someone players  will follow. He doesn’t stand for  nonsense.Nonetheless, Mortlock, who was surprised to lose the captaincy, has reason to be concerned about the official lines of communication. But what cannot be used as an excuse for him no longer being skipper is that Mortlock was supposedly at odds with the ARU over Lote Tuqiri’s dismissal from the Wallabies. At the time of Tuqiri’s exit, Mortlock attended a meeting with ARU officials, at which he was given a full briefing on the reasoning behind his teammate’s dismissal. At the meeting, Mortlock told officials he agreed with the ARU’s decision.The over-riding factor remains that Deans has succeeded in his purpose of changing the complexion of the Australian squad. It has an abundance of new, young faces and will probably not be distracted by the disaffected few. Footballers, remember, are the most selfish of beasts. Still, success revolves around victory, which makes the opening Grand Slam Test against England on November 7 so crucial. It will determine the direction and tone of this tour. If the Wallabies win at Twickenham, all the dramas will suddenly be forgotten. If they lose … the mice will again be at play, scurrying this way and that.
Nanjing Night Net

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