Deans: Victory galvanised Wallabies
Robbie Deans stopped short of declaring Saturday's victory over Argentina a turning point for his Wallabies but believes the performance "galvanised" the group.
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Injured fly-half Quade Cooper's claims of a "toxic" environment within the Wallabies squad painted a grim picture of a divided team in a state of disrepair.
But just seven days after a disastrous 31-8 thumping by South Africa in Pretoria, Deans' injury-ravaged Wallabies proved they remain a committed team with a brave 25-19 win over the Pumas in Rosario.
Asked if the game was a turning point upon his arrival back in Sydney, Deans said: "Who knows? Those things are resolved down the path but there's no doubt some of the qualities they displayed in that game will be invaluable.
"(But it was) very important, it was a great experience for this group.
"There were a couple experiencing their first starts in the backline and obviously there was a lot of youth in the side and it was a challenging circumstance, but they showed they fully understand what it's all about and played with a lot of pride and got the job done.
"We'll take everything of value out of it and there were some good things.
"Blokes who didn't have much background have played some good rugby. Most importantly the team really galvanised and came together and played for each other and that spirit was evident."
Asked to assess his side's inaugural Rugby Championship campaign after finishing second behind runaway winners New Zealand, Deans replied: "It's a good tournament...all the sides were competitive.
"Every side gave every other side moments of anxiety but clearly the All Blacks have set the benchmark.
"They won the tournament, we came second which under the circumstances probably wasn't a bad effort but it's not one that we're happy with.
"You don't enter these tournaments to come second."
The depleted Wallabies face the All Blacks in the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane on Saturday week.
Deans is under no illusions as to the challenge that lies ahead against the world champions.
"Obviously we've got to improve to get that job done but we'll rest up and recover and really hone in on that opportunity," he said.
Skipper Nathan Sharpe, who will retire after the clash against New Zealand, added: "It was good steel shown by the team in Argentina, that's the pleasing thing, but we know that our game's going to have to lift against the All Blacks in Brisbane in two weeks' time.
"We've spoken about that as a group and we're looking forward to that challenge."