Gatland backed by Deans over cheating comments

AUSTRALIA coach Robbie Deans has offered his sympathy to Wales counterpart Warren Gatland, who caused a storm by admitting he considered cheating in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final defeat to France.

Gatland has been criticised in some quarters for confessing he discussed asking a prop to feign injury in order to force uncontested scrums, a move that could have helped his side combat having captain Sam Warburton sent off.

Fellow New Zealander Deans, whose side face Gatland’s in tomorrow’s bronze final, was asked if he had ever considered a similar ploy. He said: “I haven’t, but I’ve been accused of it.”

Gatland was moved to ponder the tactic by a sense of injustice at the red card shown to Warburton, and Deans added: “If I was in Warren’s shoes – I can understand his frustration.”

The Wales coach’s controversial remarks are thought to have surprised the International Rugby Board, who are studying them but have yet to announce if he will face action.

Deans, meanwhile, has rung the changes for the match in Auckland, with lock Nathan Sharpe set to win his 100th cap in an all-new front row.

Full-back Kurtley Beale has been recalled after recovering from a hamstring injury while inside centre Berrick Barnes replaces Pat McCabe.