All Black coach Graham Henry jumped to the defence of his under-fire Wallaby rival Robbie Deans Wednesday, saying criticism for Australia's loss last weekend to Samoa was unjustified.
Deans's All Black rival, Henry, expects the Wallabies to bounce back strongly in their opening Tri-Nations match - against South Africa in Sydney on Saturday.
Australian commentators turned on Deans following the 23-32 defeat with one newspaper describing it as "the most embarrassing result in Australian history".
But Henry, who is in Dunedin preparing the All Blacks to play Fiji this Friday, said Deans did the right thing in resting many of his key players who were in the Super Rugby champion Reds team.
"Robbie's got a bit of stick from the media, which I think is questionable," Henry said.
"How does he play those Reds players? Throw them out there again, kill them, or be pragmatic?
"He was hoping that he'd do the business without the Reds players. It didn't happen that way so he gets a lot of stick for making the right decision."
Henry is also resting several of the Crusaders who were beaten by the Reds in the Super Final, but he has still picked a vastly experienced All Blacks side saying he could not afford to take the Fijians lightly.
"It just shows you that any side in the world in the top 10 [in the IRB rankings] or so can do the job, you've just got to prepare correctly," he said, adding the Wallabies' loss would not hurt the Australians going into the World Cup in September.
"It will give them an extra edge, extra determination. They've had a wake-up call ... There's probably a bit of a parallel on Friday for us."
Henry said he felt the criticism of Deans also denied the Samoans deserved credit for the way they played.
"They played the game tactically very well, they were up for it, mentally and physically, they got into the Australians at the tackle and played the game tactically very well," he said.
"They haven't got enough credit. They're a good side and they played exceptionally well."
Deans, a former Super championship winning coach with the Crusaders, moved to Australia after missing out to Henry as All Blacks coach when Henry was re-selected despite the All Blacks folding in the quarter-finals of the last World Cup.
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