Is the writing on the wall for Robbie Deans?

Nathan Roar Rookie

By Nathan, Nathan is a Roar Rookie

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    Wallaby coach Robbie Deans watches his team train in Sydney, Australia. AP Photo/Mark Baker

    Wallaby coach Robbie Deans watches his team train in Sydney, Australia. AP Photo/Mark Baker

    There may still be time for Robbie Deans to redeem himself, but I get the feeling he is biding his time and appears to be going through the motions.

    The turning point dated back to 13th September, 2008, when the Wallabies lost to the All Blacks 24-28. Had the Wallabies won this game, it would have proven to the ARU they had made the right choice. Self-belief would have skyrocketed.

    However, they fell short and have never been the same since.

    I hate to draw parallels but it’s hard to go past the recent happenings to a certain former Prime Minister. For example, calling Robbie Deans ‘dingo Deans’ when he first arrived reminded me of Kevin Rudd being called ‘Kevin 07’ when he was first elected.

    And we all know what happened to him.

    This kind of hyperbole is an illusion in some ways and disguises or masks reality. Both politics and rugby needed some sort of saviour, and both Rudd and Deans were unfairly held in that regard.

    Kevin Rudd’s undoing was that he failed to realise he won an election, not a popularity contest. Not sure the same could be said for Deans.

    But despite numerous bungles, they both still managed to last three years in power.

    Some will say Rudd’s exit was sudden, but you get the feeling the rest of the party saw the writing on the wall some time ago, and it was just a matter of when.

    One gets the feeling that Deans is in a similar situation, but that doesn’t necessarily please the fans. Nor should it.

    Things can turn around pretty quickly, which can make us look foolish, but there are too many signs that would suggest the Wallabies are far from okay.

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    The Crowd Says (142)

    • June 29th 2010 @ 7:06am
      Apelu Tielu said | June 29th 2010 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      Dean is still the best coach, but he does not have a tight five that will worry any top opponent. We also do not have a number 8. Even with Palu, he has some serious limitations in his overall play. His main value is in carrying the ball forward, and that is it. If Dean can, somehow, find players for those position, then the Wallabies will become a very competitive outfit. As of now, they cause no fear in the ABs and the Boks because of that serious deficiency.

      • June 29th 2010 @ 8:07am
        CraigB said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        minor point, but have you ever seen Palu tackle? I would say he can do that fairly well also.

    • June 29th 2010 @ 7:32am
      Sam Taulelei said | June 29th 2010 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      I disagree, historically Australia has never had a tight five that would worry the likes of SA and NZ with the exception of the 1984 -86 Wallabies. In spite of that hindrance they have always been able to punch above their weight and outsmart teams with the way they used what possession they won.

      I’m wondering now if there are two camps within the Wallaby squad, those who still believe in Deans and want to play for him and those who don’t and are feeling on the outer. Look at the difference in how Deans assisted Cooper with his goalkicking and how he has left Giteau out in the cold.

      Spiro wrote this year that Australia has the ingredients in a world class coach and talented players to form the nucleus of a world cup winning side. I don’t see a team playing together and for each other yet.

      • June 29th 2010 @ 1:13pm
        sheek said | June 29th 2010 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

        Not quite true, Sam.

        While we haven’t consistently produced the front-rows of NZ & SA, there have been wonderful exceptions.

        Our first great Wallabies front-row were unbeaten in 4 tests against the ABs & Lions in 1929-30. Tight-head Wild Bill Cerutti, hooker Eddie Bonis & loose-head Eddie Thompson. Cerutti & Bonis both went on to play 20 tests, equal second most appearances up to the beginning of WW2.

        They also produced lion-hearted performances against the Boks in 1933, & helped win the BC for the first time in 1934. Thompson was a bank clerk, & wasn’t willing to sacrifice his banking career during the depression, which was most unfortunate for the rest of us.

        The 1947-48 combo of Eric Tweedale at tight-head, Killer Ken Kearney at hooker & Gentleman Nick Shehadie at loose-head is often underrated. Kearney later captained the Kangaroos & player-coached the mighty St.George Dragons to the first 6 of 11 consecutive grand finals (1956-61).

        In the 60s you had tight-head Jon White, hooker Peter Johnson & loose-head John Thornett. The ‘3 Johnnies’ if you like. They provided the platform that saw the Wallabies level the series with the Boks in SA in 63 & win at home in 65.

        Mcintyre-Lawton-Rodriguez in 1984-87, were followed by McKenzie-Kearns-Daly 1990-95. So, occasionally we’ve produced wonderful front-rows, but not nearly often enough.

      • Roar Guru

        June 29th 2010 @ 1:16pm
        Sam Taulelei said | June 29th 2010 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

        Thanks Sheek, knew I could count on you to educate me on the history of Wallaby rugby. Cheers

        • June 29th 2010 @ 3:36pm
          Aaron said | June 29th 2010 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

          LMAO… how do you comeback from a post like that from Sheek!

    • June 29th 2010 @ 7:42am
      Tighthead said | June 29th 2010 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      I see the parrallel between Rudd and Deans. Deans was deified when he first came over here and couldn’t possibly live up to the hype generated by the ARU(O,Neill) and the Growden @ Co. The difference is that Rudd’s hype was self generated. In either case the hype was unsustainable. Deans is still a very good coach but for some reason there is a disconnect between him and the players. The two things which have changed for the worse for Deans is the weight of his record with the Wallabies which is likely to get worse and the emergence of a home grown excellent coach in Ewen McKenzie.

      • Roar Pro

        June 29th 2010 @ 8:55am
        Nathan said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        At full strength the Wallabies on paper have a very competitve side and there is no doubting Robbie Deans is a quality coach but there appears to be a ‘disconnect’ between players and coach and that’s where part of the problem lies. Once that happens it’s very hard to get back but what choice do they have?

        With a win/loss ratio hovering just over 50% (will most likely dip after Tri Nations) and slipping to 4th on world rankings recently doesn’t make for good reading.

        Just wondering what the criteria is for him to keep his job ie he retains it regardless of how the Wallabies perform until the World Cup? Faith is 1 thing but blind faith another. If it was based on performance indicators he might be struggling.

        • June 29th 2010 @ 6:01pm
          Shamwari said | June 29th 2010 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

          Nathan – there is no way that “at full strength the Wallabies on paper have a very competitive side”. The forwards are where the Wallabies are weak. The Boks’ second pick pack will drill our pack! And now there are question marks with some of the backs like Gits and Mitchell. The problem for Deans is that there is little choose from which makes for less competition amongst the players – again see the Boks.

          With respect to Deans “not connecting” with the players, the ARU has been far too lenient on the prima donnas (Gregan is a prime example when he was playing). This coupled with the thin pickings make Deans’ life very hard. An example of one or two senior players/prima donnas must be made soon if we are to make it thru to the knockout stage of RWC 2011.

          • June 30th 2010 @ 1:54am
            Ben said | June 30th 2010 @ 1:54am | ! Report

            Shamwari…you obviosuly werent watching last year…our first choice front row was probably the best in the world…..only to be competed with the french front row. Palu is choice No8 and pocock with challenge mccaw as premier No7. We have world class all over our pack, not even the boks or the abs could loose their first choice front row and be competitive. The bok front row was demolished last year and this year against french lost comprehensively. The AB front row will give the boks a dusting.

      • Roar Guru

        June 29th 2010 @ 9:02am
        Sam Taulelei said | June 29th 2010 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Well if the unexpected happens and Deans is dumped one year out from the World Cup then Ewen McKenzie would be one of the favoured contenders to get the job and if he can transform the Reds in one season after a period of constant underperformance and failures with largely the same players then he can also do the same for the Wallabies.

        Deans would certainly be in good company with foreign international coaches that hadn’t delivered and been shown the door, ironically one of them is Graham Henry.

        • June 29th 2010 @ 10:52am
          Lion Red said | June 29th 2010 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          Just because you are great coach at Super rugby level doesn’t necessarily mean that you can transfer your coaching success to the international arena. Case in point Robbie Deans as thus far (could prove me wrong in the TN & WC). However I am a big big believer that the Wallaby coach should be an Australian and Ewen McKenzie has shown in the past of his credentials and the ability to have teams who are considered to be easy beats to punch well above their weight. I don’t think ARU will sack Dingo a year out from the WC but hope to see Link as coach after WC. Than we can might have the interesting scenario of Link coaching the Wallabies and Dingo Deans coaching AB’s.

    • June 29th 2010 @ 8:02am
      sheek said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      Shame about the quality of cattle though…..

    • June 29th 2010 @ 8:21am
      Rob said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes here or how things would play out but I’ve been having similar thoughts but along the lines of what will happen post 2011. Henry will either be a hero which would be the icing on his coaching career or a villain. Either way there will probably be a vacancy. Is Deans just biding his time until that vacancy occurs? It seems that he has been given the blessing of O’Neill to clean out the dead wood but that looks to be as far as he will go. Has he used his authority and goodwill to implement any reform structures throughout the grass roots level of rugby? He hasn’t really shaken up the selection processes? If anything he hasn’t rocked the ARU boat. There’s no way he has challenged any players whose family connections may have an impact on his standing with any “ruling bodies”. It may sound strange but they were some of the long term things that I hoped would be improved even if we didn’t get any short term success.

    • June 29th 2010 @ 8:25am
      kingplaymaker said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Australian fans are the most fickle in the world: you have the best coach available, give him players who aren’t quite good enough and then assault him for the results.

      There are not enough good players, that’s the end of it.

      • Roar Pro

        June 29th 2010 @ 9:11am
        Nathan said | June 29th 2010 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        The same could be said about the Reds this year but Ewen McKenzie managed to connect with his team and hence, got the best out of them. He was hard, showed faith, believed in them and they players responded. The Reds fans knew that the players were giving their best and supported them. The same can’t be said for the Wallabies however. Mr Deans has to portion some of the blame for failing to connect with his team because that’s part of the skill set of a coach.

        • June 29th 2010 @ 10:48am
          kingplaymaker said | June 29th 2010 @ 10:48am | ! Report

          Nathan I disagree the same could be said about the Reds: the backline is virtually international strength and there are many talented players in the forwards. What Mckenzie did was take underperforming but talented Super level players and turn them into well-performing Super level players.

          The difference is that Deans doesn’t have enough talented players for the higher, international level and so can’t transform them from under-performing to well-performing.

          Mckenzie made sure gold could perform like gold (at Super level), whereas Deans must make bronze perform like gold (at international level).

          • Roar Pro

            June 29th 2010 @ 11:23am
            Nathan said | June 29th 2010 @ 11:23am | ! Report

            Fair point and like your analogy but there is a difference between a poor performing team and a team that may not be good enough but you support them for giving their best. Fans will applaud a team that they feel is giving their best regardless of the result in most cases but the same can’t be said about the Wallabies at the moment.

            Let’s not forget the Reds didn’t even make the finals but most were satisfied they had done their best. On the other hand the Waratahs made the finals but rightly or wrongly, the supporters were indifferent. Why? Because they felt they had the potential to do better and that’s what I think frustrates most Wallaby supporters about the Wallabies.

            • June 29th 2010 @ 11:36am
              kingplaymaker said | June 29th 2010 @ 11:36am | ! Report

              Nathan you have a point that some may be underperforming but I think the deeper reason for performances like this and last november is a profound unease about their own abilities. Put simply, the Wallabies fear they may not be good enough in ability and so become nervous and lose confidence. And they’re quite right to fell like this as they don’t have enough ability!

          • June 29th 2010 @ 11:32am
            Jiggles said | June 29th 2010 @ 11:32am | ! Report

            at first your comment is a bit contradictory but you redeem yourself by the end, re the reds.

            I disagree however. who would argue that Faainga, Chambers, Morahan, Davies were super 14 gold (as you put it) before the start of the season.

            as a Reds fan I was disgruntled with why they hell we would buy faainga, I rememeber chambers form school boys and he is ok, Morahan I didnt know what to think and Davies, well I thought he was a aoft muppet! but I am happy to say that I was proven wrong!!! these blokes are not super 14 “gold” but super 14 bronze, and McKenzie did wonders to make them punch above their weight.

            also you say “the Reds: the backline is virtually international strength”. well why arn’t more of them in the team? (baring injuries of course). I think you touch on the flirt around the point that the combinations and selections of the back line are not exactly correct. this is something deans, I believe has not got right.

            • June 29th 2010 @ 11:41am
              kingplaymaker said | June 29th 2010 @ 11:41am | ! Report

              Jiggles my point was not that they were Super 14 gold in achievement or in total, but they were super 14 gold in talent i.e. potential. Mckenzie transformed that potential into achievement. By gold by the way I simply mean they had the ability to perform well at Super level, not that they’re the gold of the Super 14.

              It is harder for Deans. How can he turn Drew Mitchell into a Sivivatu? Or Dean Mumm into an Ali Williams (or Dan Vickerman)? Or Ben Daley into a Tony Woodcock?

              I don’t think the Wallabies combinations are that bad, it’s just there are millions of good playmakers and no good strike runners like Mortlock and Tuqiri used to be (Ioane going someway however). That’s the backline problem.

              • June 29th 2010 @ 12:15pm
                Jiggles said | June 29th 2010 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                personally speaking I didn’t see the potential in faaringa and Davies inparticular, but hey thats why Link is the coach and I am an arm Chair bandit :D!

                also I do think we have the runners, and the selections are off. for example the dual playmakers. we do not need it with Cooper running the show. stick in Horne of Faainga to be that straight running 12. Chambers (when fit) can be a great 13, he hits hard, tackles hard, runs straight and unlike AAC, and to a lesser extent Horne, he can really offload in the tackle.

                for me this leaves the back 3 problem. personally speaking I would rather 11. AAC 15. Hynes over 11. Mitchell 15. AAC. Reason: mitchell has shown again he is not compitent at Interational level. Hynes while not a star is solid (and I think Beale needs a bit more coaching to become solid at test level). Hynes however is a 15 only and not a wing i Believe. AAC is a solid winger and has a tendancy not to pass, which is fine at wing but not so good at 15. Hynes showed inthe S14 he played very well at 15.

                so my 1st choice (no injuries) backline is:

                9 genia 10 cooper 11 AAC 12 Horne/Faainga 13 Chambers 14 Ioane 15 Hynes

                which is vastly different from the current backline of

                9 Burgess (genia) 10 cooper 11 Mitchell 12 Giteau 13 horne 14 Digby/AAC 15 JOC/Beale

          • June 29th 2010 @ 1:24pm
            mother teresa said | June 29th 2010 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

            deans didnt get gold performing gold in 2003 against mckenzie;he messed up then and still does at international level.

        • June 30th 2010 @ 12:50am
          Katipo said | June 30th 2010 @ 12:50am | ! Report

          Ummm, the Reds didn’t even make the semis.

      • June 29th 2010 @ 9:51am
        inkosi said | June 29th 2010 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Well said KPM – look how long and how many losses it took Woodward to get to the top in 2003. The players definitely need some sort of wake up call!

        • June 29th 2010 @ 10:50am
          kingplaymaker said | June 29th 2010 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          inkosi the problems lie in the spread of rugby union in Australia, the way players are developed, and that the ARU allow talented players like Vickerman and Mcmeniman to leave the game thereby critically weakening the team.

          The Wallabies are basically 3-5 players short of a good team, but 5 is a big number at international level.

          • June 29th 2010 @ 11:37am
            reds fan said | June 29th 2010 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            will you get over mcmeniman… he was rarely fit!

            • June 29th 2010 @ 12:11pm
              kingplaymaker said | June 29th 2010 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

              redsfan even the most unfit players are often around for 2/3 of the time. Besides, look at what Deans did with Palu, turning a player who would go missing and had never quite made it up to international level into a good test performer. Imagine if he had done the same with Mcmeniman! Then there would have been Palu AND Mcmeniman together in the Wallabies pack which would have made a huge difference. Add in the quality and physicality of Vickerman and you have a formidable unit. Imagine the following:
              1) Robinson 2) Polota-Nau 3) Alexander 4) Vickerman 5) Mcmeniman 6) Elsom 7) Pocock 8 Palu

              That’s a world-class pack and a hugely physical one too. It could so easily have been like that! There was no reason to let either of those two go!

              • June 29th 2010 @ 12:25pm
                Jiggles said | June 29th 2010 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

                instead of eminem we now have higginbotham, he is pretty handy when fit. I think he will go far

        • June 29th 2010 @ 12:42pm
          kingplaymaker said | June 29th 2010 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          jiggles your backline definitely has more runners than the current one, but I still don’t see it beating the world.

          • June 29th 2010 @ 1:36pm
            Jiggles said | June 29th 2010 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

            Thats what I picked it on KPM. I think the wallabies have to pick a side that is extremly fast and can hit the line and offload. in other words try and avoid slow break down play. I think the only we can beat the boks and the ABs is if the wallabies play a similar style to the reds this year, that is a very fast and continual game. for this you need your half and 5-8 dictating terms and all your backs as hard line runners.

            In saying all this we still need the forwards to be able to play this game also…. something I am less confident of.

            • June 30th 2010 @ 1:54am
              kingplaymaker said | June 30th 2010 @ 1:54am | ! Report

              jiggles the loss of Chambers and Horne is pretty bad in terms of big runners.

              Of those fit Faiingaa and AAC could at least provide some power in the centres. A shame Hickey destroyed Nemani Nadolo’s career at NSW, at least he had power and speed.

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