WALLABIES coach Robbie Deans has travelled a well-worn path to Newcastle for master-class coaching seminars, Speaking engagements and promotional visits.
But tonight it is the real deal.
The Wallabies take on Scotland at Hunter Stadium in the first rugby union Test match to be played in the rugby league heartland.
The occasion has not been lost on Deans who, by his own admission, has formed an affinity with the area since taking the Wallabies job in 2008.
‘‘It is not dissimilar to my background,’’ said Deans, who is from Cheviot, an hour north of Christchurch .
‘‘I know the public is excited to have the Wallabies in town. I have been to Newcastle a number of times and it is a fantastic destination. The public love the game.
Video by Dean Osland
‘‘They will get to witness a game that will have an intensity that many haven’t experienced live previously.’’
Scotland are ranked 12th in the world but pose a genuine threat to a Wallabies side boasting six debutants and a limited preparation. The Wallabies have the added distraction of a Test against Six Nations champions Wales in Brisbane on Saturday.
Predicted torrential rain and gale-force winds are also more in tune with the visitors than the home nation.
And Dan Palmer, Joe Tomane, Dave Dennis, Mike Harris, Luke Morahan and Michael Hooper will be donning the gold jumper for the first time.
‘‘They are here for a good reason,’’ Deans said. ‘‘We picked them because we want them here and we believe in them.
‘‘The first Test can be challenging. The key is that they just get on with it.’’
Tonight’s combatants have undergone vastly different preparations.
The Scots were based in Manly for a week before arriving in Newcastle on Saturday.
In contrast, the Wallabies were thrown together on Sunday and have trained twice, including the captain’s run yesterday.
Twelve players, including six starters, are backing up after playing Super Rugby on the weekend.
Given such limited time together, the Wallabies are planning to keep things simple.
‘‘We can’t get too intricate, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the same desire and willingness to play,’’ Deans said.
‘‘These guys have been playing a long time and are perfectly capable of reacting to the opportunities they are presented with. That is what we want.
‘‘We want to create momentum and some of those principles of the game don’t change.
‘‘To get up we are going to have to play some rugby.’’
The Scots recorded a historic victory, stunning the Wallabies 9-8, in their last meeting at Murrayfield in 2009 – ending 27 years of disappointment.
Halfback Will Genia, hooker Stephen Moore and reserve back Adam Ashley-Cooper are the only Wallabies from that nightmare involved tonight.
There are six survivors for the Scots.
The loss is one of the low points in the Deans tenure, but the unflappable Kiwi prefers not to dwell on the past.
‘‘Out of necessity you have to look out the front window,’’ he said.
‘‘Not many of this group were involved last time round.
‘‘The occasion itself is enough to get these guys up.’’
Scotland are coming off a disastrous Six Nations campaign in which they failed to record a win.
Coach Andy Robinson has rejuvenated the squad but Deans is anticipating a similar approach.
‘‘They will have some plans they will be hanging their hat on,’’ he said.
‘‘Of all the Six Nation sides they they make more passes than anybody else. I can’t see them changing their approach significantly.
‘‘They will want to deny us the ability to play. That is something they do well and is part of their psyche.
‘‘They won’t give us anything lightly.’’
AAP reports: Digby Ioane showed he takes his role as a Wallabies backline mentor seriously by offering debutant Tomane his choice of wing for the Test against Scotland.
Ioane is the only capped member of the Australian back-three for the Newcastle clash, but when he was starting out as a Wallaby he jovially recalls being more or less told to go and stand on the ‘‘other’’ wing by his seniors.
But now 27, and 21 games into his international career, the shoe is on the other foot and it is Ioane welcoming youngsters into to the fold in his own unique way.
Reds teammate Morahan will debut at fullback, and league convert Tomane will play his first Test on the right wing – by his own choosing.
Ioane says he wanted to make Tomane feel comfortable.
‘‘I gave him the choice. I said to him, ‘Do you want to play left or right?’ He said, ‘I’ll play right’ and I said, ‘Oh sweet, I just thought I’d let you choose.’
‘‘I think back in the day, I won’t name any names, but I was told, ‘No, go to the other wing.’
‘‘I’m not like that, I leave it with the rookies. I want the best for them on the day.’’
Ioane, who was watching from the stands when Australia lost at Murrayfield, says having five Reds in the backline will be a major boost for Australia.