Robbie Deans is the best rugby coach on the planet. You would never know it after the whinging and whining since the Samoa Test, but Deans is the right guy to take us to the 2011 World Cup.
Any objective rugby person knows that. It’s just that Aussie sporting supporters are a pretty impatient and emotional breed with very short memories.
Let’s start by asking the obvious questions. What is wrong with these players? How can you get rolled by England and then put 60 points on France in Paris the next week? How many can spell ‘consistency’.
With the exception of Horwill, Genia and Ioane, the form, attitude and application from the Wallabies this season (and last) has been awful. You would never guess a RWC was one month away.
Giteau’s has been about ‘me me me’ for the last 12 months. Cooper looked like he had been listening to Khoder Nasser’s BS and completely lost the plot in Auckland. O’Connor, well I’ll tell you what I like about him- absolutely nothing. He looks to be a player who will suit himself first and foremost whether in his application to kicking duties, contract negotiations or ridiculous David Bowie hair.
And then there is Elsom. Can it really be said that Deans should be responsible for Elsom not putting his hand up and saying, “I’m just not up to it.”
Is it really Dean’s fault Cooper is prone to brain snaps and has the maturity of a 25 test player rather than a 95 Test player like Carter? Matt Giteau has tickets on himself and Deans didn’t attach them. Which brings me to my next point.
What came before Deans? Remember Eddie Jones? He attached a big fat wad (of tickets) to Giteau. He also bored us to death with comments like, “73 percent of fifth phase ball goes through the 10/12 channel 19 percnt of the time.” What did Eddie win? Nothing.
The Bledisloe has been lost for nine years. Deans has lost it for a third of that time after starting from scratch and rebuilding after the debacle in 2007 overseen by Connolly, a man who was more conservative with his selections than Sarah Palin is with her money box.
Deans has made the tough calls in the past. He dropped Smith for Pocock when the decision was line ball. He’s dropped Sharpey twice. Sharpe is good 90 percent of the time, the other 10 percent he messes about like a disabled child employee at Maccas.
He’s also given Beale a shot at 15, I have my doubts about this call but Deans has backed him and the back three to throw caution to the wind. Better than boring right?
Yes, he has made a mistake with Elsom but any move to sack him one month before a RWC would be doing a Gillard on Rudd. Elsom should fall on his sword if he isn’t quite right.
If he doesn’t and Australia are knocked out in the quarters, his reputation will be in tatters. Maybe that decision is a matter for better men than you and I. And I have no doubt Rocky is one of them.
Let’s not forget what Deans has done for Aussie rugby. With a miniscule playing pool (compared to the other big four unions) we are more than competing. It isn’t a coincidence that Queensland won a Super 15 title while Deans was Wallabies coach.
McKenzie certainly didn’t pull off that success at NSW or Stade Francais, at the time the best resourced club in Europe. Deans has got talents like Genia, Cooper, Ioane Beale and Mitchell playing what is in front of them. They are hitting the ball at pace but also letting the ball do the work. It’s called the basics. When the Wallabies get it right they are unstoppable (think France last year).
It’s time to ask more questions of the players now. Deans is the man for the job. But are Cooper and co?