Robbie Deans at the crossroads
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is at the crossroads. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Robbie Deans’ 65th international as Wallaby coach could well be the most telling of his career.
Later this morning the injury-decimated men-in-gold will be the underdogs when they take on the respected Pumas in Rosario.
So far Deans has won 38 of his 65 internationals for a 58.5% success-rate, well behind Rod Macqueen’s 79%, Alan Jones 76%, John Connolly’s 64%, Greg Smith’s 63% and just ahead of Eddie Jones’ 57%.
But today’s game has deeper meaning than usual. A loss to the eighth-ranked Pumas would drop the Wallabies to number four in the world rankings, just ahead of England, France, and Wales.
During the end of the year tour the Wallabies will face all three. If they are beaten by any one of them, the Wallabies will drop out of the top four and lose automatic qualification for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
It would be devastating and dangerous having to go through qualifying.
So today’s game is vital to the future of Wallaby rugby.
Deans has made the right selections up front with tall timbers who pack some hefty firepower.
* Skipper-lock Nathan Sharpe – 200cms and 115kgs.
* His partner Kane Douglas – 202 and 122.
* Blindside flanker Sitaleki Timani – 203 and 120.
* And no 8 Radike Samo – 197 and 117.
Off the bench Scott Higginbotham 195 and 110, with David Dennis 192 and 109.
But having so much firepower, the biggest in my memory, won’t be worth a stamp unless they use it to advantage.
Time for a bit of mongrel from number 1 jersey eight through to number 8. Take no prisoners, the Pumas won’t.
It would be grossly unfair to Deans not to recognise the injury toll that has made life so difficult for him.
Up to 30 players have been injured during the season and the current list stands at 16. No team in the world, including the All Blacks with much greater depth, could afford so many key injuries.
The Wallaby caps later this morning tell the story.
The starting lineup boasts 345, Sharpe has 110 of them.
The other seven forwards have 147 between them, the seven backs just 88.
Cometh the hour, cometh the men?
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