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Deans' secret weapon to squash All Blacks

Published: 4:26PM Thursday April 23, 2009 Source: AAP

Hungry for any edge over the All Blacks, Robbie Deans has sounded out Australia's two-time world squash champion David Palmer for a conditioning role with the Wallabies.

Deans, a squash fanatic who plays A grade in Sydney, believes the freakishly fit Palmer could help alleviate the Wallabies' second-half fadeouts.

With the annual trans-Tasman series locked at 1-1 last year, the Wallabies established useful leads over the All Blacks in the third and fourth Bledisloe Cup Tests only to be over-run in the closing quarter of an hour in both games.

Palmer is revered on the world squash tour for his remarkable stamina, a quality Deans is hoping to instil in the Wallabies in his second season in charge.

The idea of calling on his expertise arose when former world number one Palmer gave Deans the runaround on court at the Sydney Football Stadium complex.

Topping the torture test

For training, Palmer has been known to complete the beep test - a torturous multi-phase fitness drill often used by footballers - five times back-to-back with just a three-minute break in between each.

"It's bloody hard, one of the hardest things I've ever done physically and mentally," Palmer said.

"But that's what squash is all about; it's about being pushed to your max and how fast you can recover and how many times you can go to that breaking point and keep coming back."

Deans said some Palmer punishment was just what his Wallabies needed.

"Teach them about perseverance; how do you keep going when your legs are gone. That's what our blokes need to learn," Deans told media on Thursday.

"Staying composed when fatigue strikes. It's a big advantage. The strength is minimising that recovery time.

Relates to rugby

"No doubt squash is actually one of the better forms of conditioning for rugby because of the footwork and the qualities David alluded to; perseverance, spacial awareness, mental resilience - intimidation is a big part of it.

"There's nothing better. It's actually great for defensive technique as well."

Palmer, who has done some work with NRL heavyweights the Melbourne Storm, said he would love to assist the Wallabies when there was a break in his schedule.

"Definitely," he said.

"I follow the Wallabies, the sports are similar: they're non-stop, there's no breaks, it's up and down.

"There's so many different aspects to squash. Its endurance, its speed, there's flexibility, there's tactics, there's the mental side - the tactical intimidation.

"It's like playing chess at a million miles an hour. It's not like other sports where you get time to think about your shot. It's so fast it's such a reflex instinct type of game.

"Using the squash type of training in rugby would be beneficial."